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from a trench in daylight, and a sniper spotted me. Luckily, his first shot
missed, and I flopped down in the communication trench. He had fifteen
more shots at me, but could not quite get me, though he was doing mar-
vellous shooting.
We had a bit of a 'do' the other day. The Germans broke into our
gallery, but we hurriedly put in our charges, tamped and fired, and blew
them sky high. Gee! it was jumpy work, but we managed it all right and
my two men have both got medals. I see Ainslie is wounded. I was going
to see him as I heard he was at 'Wipers'. I went into that place the other
day to have a look at it. The Germans were shelling it with 14-inch guns,
so I did not stay very long. They had just fired one into a house and
killed 40 men. I have never seen such a sight.
As a consequence of the Imperial College students enlisting
at the same depot, almost of all them were lost in the retreat
from Mons. Taylor's luck finally ran out and he too was one of
the millions who did not return home.
By 1916 Imperial College felt the full force of war-time con-
ditions, and work was seriously impeded when all the resources
of the Department of Geology and its sta¬ were placed at the
disposal of the Government. But prior to that, although condi-
tions were not ideal, the fact that there was only a handful of
students left to teach meant that more time could be devoted to
research, and it was a particularly productive time for Holmes
and his work on the age of the Earth.
While Holmes had been away in Mozambique, his friend Bob
Lawson had obtained a brilliant result in his physics degree at
Armstrong College, Newcastle. He was o¬ered the post of
'prize' demonstrator as the reward for his success, which meant
he could stay on at the university to continue his research whilst
assisting a lecturer to 'demonstrate' to the students. In fact
the job frequently entailed taking over from the lecturers while
they got on with their research. When Holmes heard of this
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