The company was completely bunched in front of the wire. Some men threw bombs toward the German trench while others tried to beat down the wooden stakes supporting the wire with their rifle buts and then trample it into the mud. The German grenades generally fell short as they were throwing uphill, but their rifle fire was "deadly accurate." Casualties mounted. Unless something were to be done quickly, Mackie realized that No. 4 Company would be wiped out.
Suddenly Richardson turned to the sergeant. "Will I gie them wund?" he asked calmly. "Aye mon, gie 'em wind, " Mackie barked back. Coolly, the young smooth-faced solder marched back and forth in front of the wire, playing the pipes while a storm of fire swirled past him on either side. "The effect was instantaneous," reads his Victoria Cross commendation. "Inspired by his splendid example, the company rushed the wire with such fury and determination that the obstacle was overcome and the positions captured."