National Geographic : 1917 Apr
Photograph by American Press Association WEARING GAS MASKS AT THE BENCHES It is not alone in the trench that the soldier must guard against poisonous gas and dust. These women soldiers of the munitions plants must be similarly protected. in the officer's calendar is wantonly to waste the life of a subordinate. Circum stances may call for the last sacrifice at times, but short of this condition the French commander husbands the lives of his men as a miser his pieces of gold. In an attack he will plan how they must creep from shell-hole to shell-hole, keep ing as safe as possible from the enemy's artillery fire. He will study the ground in front of his trench for every available bit of cover, and so maneuver his men that they will gain its every advantage. He will elaborate trench and sap until his men are as safe as the battle front per mits, feeling his duty to his country de- mands not only that he defeat the enemy, but that he defeat him with the minimum expenditure of the lives under his com mand. Men learn quickly to appreciate this quality in their officers, and this appre ciation brings about a sense of loyalty which closely knits an army into an un beatable whole. THE TEST OF THE TRENCHES The test of the trenches also brings out the indomitable spirit of France as could no other circumstance. I saw this spirit in its concrete cheerfulness during a visit to the battle line beyond the Somme.