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On Duckboards
On Duckboards 

Western Mail, Thursday 16 November 1933, page 2

On Duckboards.

(By "Duckboard Harrier," France, 1918.)

Duckboards may be divided into two classes:

(a) Good.

(b) Bad.

Class (a) is said now to be extinct. Some experts aver that it never existed. However, I know a man who said that he knew a man who knew a man who once saw a good duckboard. But as he adduced no evidence to support this extraordinary statement, his story lacks credence.

Of class (b) there are many varieties, and their habits and temperaments vary considerably. Probably the commonest, but by no means the most dangerous, is that which lays in wait for its victim with a couple of boards broken in the centre. In daylight this species is not very dangerous, as its evil intention may be plainly discerned by the wary and easily avoided. It is generally at night that it secures its victims. It mostly preys upon laden fatigue parties. It is almost sure of securing a catch of at least one in each party. Its old nails can be heard croaking with diabolical glee as the heavy foot of an unsuspecting soldier crashes through the broken board, and the leg of the unfortunate victim ranks into the mud up to his thigh. Rations scatter everywhere and sink into the mud. (If the victim happens to be carrying the rum issue the accident may bring terrible disaster upon the unfortunate troops). After the casualty has been rescued with much difficulty and bad language from the clutches of the savage, unyielding duckboard, it settles down contentedly to await further prey.

Another member of the species is more subtle in its methods and more savage in its treatment of its victims. It seized upon its prey in broad daylight. Assuming the role of an inoffensive, benevolent duckboard, it rests in its place enticingly inviting the world to tread on it. But immediately a foot is placed upon it the end trodden on sinks deeply into the mud and the other end springs savagely into the air, drenches its victim with mud and slush, and gives him a savage clout as it sends him staggering into the mud on all fours. It then goes back into its place to await further prey.

Then there is the kind that adopts opposite tactics. When it is first trodden on its pretends to be firm and strong and capable of supporting any weight. But when the trusting one reaches the other end, it suddenly springs up behind him and deals him a terrible blow on the back of the neck, and follows up the attack in a similar manner to that described in the previous paragraph.

There's still another member of the species - a nightworker, this one. It keeps one end a little higher than the board next to it, and seizing its victim by the toe of his boot in the space between itself and its lower neighbour, sends him to earth with a nerve-wracking thud and brings disaster upon his load.

Another sort has one end resting on the edge of" a shell-bole. After, a spell of wet weather the earth, of course, becomes soft, and taking advantage of this, the duckboard sinks down at the approach of its victim and vigorously empties him and his load into the hole.

These are just a few bf the more common members of the species. There are many others. Their method of attack varies. They are only too well-known to the harried soldier of the line. But it must not be supposed that duckboards have no advantages.

They have. Here's a list of their principal uses:

(1) They provide good jobs for engineers.

(2) They give employment to carrying parties and thus prevent the growth of the unemployment problem in the army.

(3) They provide enemy artillery with good targets.

(4) Their material is excellent when broken up small, for use in the braziers.

(5) They develop the offensive spirit the lust to kill-in the troops.