Daegaer wrote,
2003-02-27

War is Hell

This originally was going to be about certain alleged angelic
intervention in the Great War, but that event was in 1914, before
things settled down into trench warfare, and I wanted this scene.  So,
just in case you’re wondering, the following takes place in 1917.

I’m interested in the Great War, and some family members died in it
(two of my grandmother’s cousins, the fiance of my grandmother’s
eldest sister (I think) and another cousin of hers was gassed and
lived on to die in agony when my mother was a small girl.  My
great-grandmother and my grandmother’s only brother died in the
aftermath of the War, in the Great Influenza Epidemic of 1918 like so
many others).  All of which probably explains why this isn’t funny.

Disclaimer:  Not my character.  No copyright infringement intended.

Over the Top

The men stirred uneasily.  It was freezing cold in the trench, and the mud drew all heat away from their chilblained feet.  Most of the men wanted a cigarette and a nice cup of tea.  Or better yet, a beer or a whisky.  Most of all, the young men wanted their mothers.  The order to fix bayonets had been given, and they were gathered around the ladders now.  The young officer was making his way up the trench, a pat on the shoulder here, a kind word there.  He was a good chap, for a toff who’d gone to college.  He’d been suffering out here with the ordinary soldiers, losing weight like them all, so that his body was now just as skin and bones as theirs.  He was just as dirty as any ordinary soldier, and his eyes were bright with the same chronic fevers.  But he kept their chins up, told them it wasn’t as bad as it could be, he’d seen worse.  No one was sure what could be worse, but one look in his face and you knew he was telling the truth.  He was like a beacon of goodness, making them feel they had some hope of seeing England again.  They kept their eyes fixed on him as he looked at his watch.  He nodded at them, a brave smile on his lips, and drew his pistol.

“Time, lads,” he said, and blew a long, sharp blast on the whistle hanging around his neck.

The men clambered up the ladders, too terrified to pay much attention to the fact that their officer had vaulted seven feet straight up.  The first wave over the top were just glad to see him waiting, an excited grin on his face.

Running full tilt at the enemy, Captain Anthony Crowley led his men into the teeth of Hell.