bobpike Posted 6 January , 2011 Share Posted 6 January , 2011 A friend sent me this and wondered if the story can be verified, hence I submit to the learned of the GWF – She came across this interesting newspaper report below. It tells of a body retrieval via tunnelling beneath No Man’s land to the site of an aeroplane crash. ''Five days before we went into the trenches, the Germans brought down a British aeroplane in front of the lines we were about to occupy. The machine was hit by a shell and crippled while patrolling behind the German lines. It was a sight never to be forgotten to see the aviator volplaning homewards. Unfortunately, the strain on the damaged machine was too great, and, while still at a great height, it parted in the middle. The tail part fell in the German lines, and the body came down in 'No Man's Land.' Here the Allied and enemy lines were only 40 yards apart. I was selected as one of the two men sent out to try to recover the bodies of the two officers and obtain the papers they had on them. Owing to the constant machine-gun fire, it was impossible to rush out, so we had to tunnel to a spot- as near as could be judged by the bodies. Like myself, my comrade was a miner, and we went to work. We worked almost night and day, and on the fourth day we saw daylight. We found, however, that we had not tunnelled enough for our purpose, and that the tunnel was too near the surface to hold up the ground above it. Timbering was out of the question, as the noise would have brought the Germans upon us. "We worked on as carefully as we could, and, narrowing our trench, arched it as much as possible on the top. We had to work while lying down at full length, and pass the dirt in bag along to our trenches. For two additional days we worked on, going night arid day, each taking two hours on and two hours off. Finally we got so close to the aeroplane that I could reach out my hand and touch one of the wings. "That same evening a German aeroplane flew over our sap three times at a very low altitude, and finally dropped a signal right over it. That meant danger for us, and so we worked for 21 hours straight on end until the job was finished. By daybreak we had discovered the first body. It took several hours to bring it in through the narrow sap to the trench. He proved to be Captain Gale, of the 2nd Life Guards. The second body was that of Lieut-Colonel Lewis, squadron commander in the Royal Flying Corps, and the inventor of the Lewis machine-gun. No wonder they were anxious to recover the bodies. "After our job was done we were very jumpy. You must realise that the aeroplane was almost as near to the enemy's lines as to our own. At night we could hear the German sentries talking plainly. Every now and again they beard the noises we were making, as they threw star shells from time to time and lit up the whole scene. We were seven days on the job, and were constantly troubled by the rats. Some of these jumped on my head while I was working, and my pal got a fright several times. He thought that the enemy was on us." She adds this other information On 14 September 1914 Major Geoffrey Salmond, CO of No.3 Sqdn and Captain Donald Swain Lewis carried out a successful experiment with a Royal Artillery battery using a radio transmitter to communicate the fall of artillery shells. Lewis is also credited with creating the "grid square" map system which revolutionized British wartime cartography. On 15 September the British Third Corps assigned its RFC squadrons to support the divisional heavy & howitzer batteries. The radio-equipped aeroplanes successfully supported the artillery in taking out German positions during the offensive on the Aisne. Lewis was shot down on the 10 April 1916 by the very guns of the battery with which he had been co-operating. Lieutenant Colonel Donald Swain Lewis DSO was killed in action when shot down by anti-aircraft fire east of Wytschaete while flying Morane LA 5132, with Capt A W G Gale as observer, on 9 or 10 April 1916. Capt Gale was wounded. . Donald Swain Lewis and Arthur Witherby Gale buried, LIJSSENTHOEK MILITARY CEMETERY, 5 A. 25/26 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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