1916

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Ponyboy314
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1916

Post by Ponyboy314 » Tue Apr 12, 2011 12:13 am

From the Author:

The following is a literary dramatization of events surrounding what has since been called, the “De la Croix Incident.” Although detailed accounts of the incident can be found in most volumes and in some documentaries of the First World War, no history book contains the true story of what happened in that otherwise unremarkable French village.

De la Croix, which has not been populated since the incident itself, was situated at a strategically important crossroads heavily used by the German Army to move reinforcements and supplies behind their lines for a significant portion of the war. B Company of First Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry Regiment had been tasked with the capture and defense of De la Croix as their part of the Somme Offensive in 1916.

The following story is largely taken from only two sources. The first is the personal diary of John Crawford, a veteran of both world wars, who served as officer commanding of B Company during the Battle of the Somme. Crawford’s diary had been kept secret until his son, Michael Crawford, found it among his father’s personal effects after his death in 1974 at the age of 81. The other is a private interview conducted by Michael Crawford with Judson Hatterly, one of only two surviving veterans of the battle in De la Croix. The other, Horace Keene, declined to be interviewed.

Numerous details were not included in John Crawford’s diary, and Judson Hatterly refused to comment on some others, or simply claimed to have forgotten them due to his age. Some artistic license has been taken to fill in these gaps, and some names and details are purely the invention of the author for the sake of maintaining the flow of the story. That being said, the author hopes that the truth of the De la Croix Incident may still be found to some degree within the following pages.


Michael Q. Crawford
April 11th, 1976
"If you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and there's a straw, there it is, that's a straw...and my straw reaches...acrosssssssss the room, and begins to drink your milkshake. I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! SLURRRP! I DRINK IT UP!

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Re: 1916

Post by Ponyboy314 » Tue Apr 12, 2011 1:10 am

“If I must choose between peace and righteousness, I choose righteousness.”
-Theodore Roosevelt



It had been two full days since Lieutenant John Crawford had managed even a single second of sleep, though it was certainly not for lack of trying. He had hoped to get at least some shuteye here and there, but something was always demanding his time, whether it had come from his own trench or the one facing him from a few hundred yards away. There was always some runner from regiment, a few artillery shells courtesy of the Boche, hoping to deny Crawford and his men sleep (which was working just fine), or a report from some sentry that the Huns were on the move in the darkness, only for it to be the imagination of some terrified private.

But for at least one brief moment, there was nothing that required his attention and Crawford was able to sit himself down on an ammo crate, where he was asleep in seconds. He certainly knew he had been tired, but even he was surprised as he felt himself slipping out of consciousness so quickly, leaving him undisturbed for nearly an hour.

Unless one wants to count his dreams as a disturbance. As he usually did when he managed some sleep, the war still stalked him. He dreamt of terrible things, such as the screams of wounded men, some not yet twenty, crying for their mothers, and the thundering storm of German artillery, knocking men off their feet from dozens of yards away and leaving them shaking for hours after the deadly rain had stopped.

But at least the war in his dreaming mind couldn’t kill him and make another grieving mother.

And it was to this other war in his mind that he had retreated, left alone until a large hand took his shoulder and began to shake him awake.

“Sir?”

Crawford slowly opened his eyes and hovered for a few seconds between the dream war and the one that had covered the world, uncertain of which one he was seeing.

That voice spoke again as the shaking continued. “Sir? Lieutenant?”

Crawford’s eyes finally opened fully, and he found himself staring into the face of Colour Sergeant Benning, the ranking noncommissioned officer in the company and the second highest-ranking soldier, which was quite an ascension, considering that Crawford himself, officer commanding, had been the third-highest ranking in the company only a few weeks earlier.

“What is it, Sergeant? I hope it’s good, because I haven’t sleep in two days.”

“Well Sir,” Colour Sergeant Benning responded, “a runner just arrived from Battalion. Major Boone wants all company commanders to report to him right away, Sir.”

“Lovely. I wonder what disaster the fools living in the Frenchy chateaus behind the lines are cooking up this time.”

“They don’t tell me anything, Sir.”

It had been January 6th 1915 when then Second Lieutenant Crawford and the rest of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry took up their places in the trenches, all the while with some idiot or another with a British accent yapping about how “The King needs you,” or “You will be a valued asset in the preservation of the Empire,” and even then, it all sounded like the words of lunacy, but far more so now. To Crawford and so many other “Canucks” in the trenches, it seemed that the British were always quick to preserve the Empire as long as Imperial troops were doing the dying. Word had inevitably gotten around that British divisions sat fat in their trenches while sending off the Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, and even African Negroes and turban-wrapped Indians to get slaughtered by the German Maxim guns and artillery. Any rank-and-file British soldier knew that none of it was true, and that the British themselves were also dying by the thousands for whatever noble cause the generals thought up this week. But then, soldiers, especially those running out of hope, love to talk, while other soldiers running out of hope love to listen to strange ramblings and take them as holy writ. Lieutenant Crawford’s company was no different. Soldiers are soldiers, wherever and whenever you go.

Crawford got up from the ammunition crate on which he had sat down to sleep only an hour or so earlier. The world seemed fuzzy around the edges and his mind was unable to do much in the way of complicated thinking. That took a few minutes to come back to him, perhaps an inevitable consequence of exhaustion. He could have laid down in the mud right then and slept for three days straight, leaving this war to others, but now Major Liam Boone was tapping his foot waiting for the company commanders to arrive. The war wasn’t done with him yet. Only a well-placed artillery round could do that.

Crawford didn’t bother to brush the dirt and mud from his uniform, which other officers obsessed over when called to meet with someone higher on the food chain. Too many officers, especially the career-minded ones, always wanted to look prim and proper, believing that looking like an officer would sooner or later make them into a higher-ranking one. Crawford was not one of those men. All he wanted to do was survive with his parts still attached and get back across the Atlantic to where things made sense. Nothing here seemed to.

Lieutenant Crawford made his way down the line, past the weary faces of his men, most of whom at least nodded as he walked by, knowing better than to salute where the Boche might see. He nodded back and splashed his boots in the mud of this filth pit that some called a trench, trying to get to First Battalion’s headquarters before deciding to just fall asleep where he was. Battalion headquarters was not much but a cave dug right out of the trench wall, reinforced by split logs, with a crudely-carved wooden sign above reading, “1st Batt. HQ, Maj. Boone.”
"If you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and there's a straw, there it is, that's a straw...and my straw reaches...acrosssssssss the room, and begins to drink your milkshake. I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! SLURRRP! I DRINK IT UP!

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Re: 1916

Post by Braxton » Tue Apr 12, 2011 9:06 am

:D
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Actually I think under some circumstances people sometimes don't even know themselves, but that's a bit existential for this thread. :lol:

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Re: 1916

Post by FrANkNstEin » Tue Apr 12, 2011 12:29 pm

yay! tagged! :D

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Re: 1916

Post by ZMace » Tue Apr 12, 2011 3:11 pm

Alright! Glad to see you are still with us Ponyboy.

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Re: 1916

Post by Mr. E. Monkey » Tue Apr 12, 2011 3:47 pm

Very, very excited to see another Ponyboy story. :D
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Re: 1916

Post by Ponyboy314 » Tue Apr 12, 2011 8:35 pm

“If we don’t end war, war will end us.”
-H.G. Wells



First Battalion headquarters was anything but luxurious. There was a cot in the corner with a crude end table, upon which sat a lantern. Beyond that was a desk with a couple of chairs and a table in the center of the room, but it was what was displayed on the wall that caught Lieutenant Crawford’s eye the moment he walked in. There sat a large map of what appeared to be the area of operation for the entire 7th Brigade of the 3rd Canadian Division, and the map seemed to be almost covered in colored pins, which was by itself a rather ominous sign. One of those colored pins undoubtedly represented B Company.

It was clear that most of the officers in the room were trying to be stoic, but Crawford could easily see that each was nervous about whatever the coming days held. The sole exception was Major Boone himself. If he was nervous about anything, he wasn’t showing it, and neither was the Battalion Sergeant Major, who was then pouring over some kind of paperwork or another, not seeming too concerned with this room full of officers.

Crawford recognized every face in the room. There were the commanders of the other three companies in First Battalion, all captains, as well as a small collection of other captains and lieutenants who served on battalion staff. Lieutenant Crawford had never seen Major Boone’s headquarters this full before, and that was another ominous sign. That probably meant that whatever was about to happen, it would be bigger than anything the regiment had yet faced.

Major Boone, even though he walked the trenches every day, looked quite proper. His uniform was the cleanest in the room, with the ribbons for his Military Cross, Distinguished Service Order, and French Croix de Guerre neatly displayed. He sported a broad mustache resembling the handlebars of a bicycle, making him look somewhat more British than Canadian. Despite his appearance, he was a real soldier’s officer. He spent as much time as possible out of his headquarters, trying to make sure that his men saw him exposing himself to the same dangers as any private soldier. He talked with the men, asking where they were from, what they did before the war and what they would do after it, never augmenting that last question with “if you make it back.” To Major Boone, everyone was going home, and although everyone in the battalion knew that was a load of nonsense, his presence was reassuring to them. The men had so much more respect for the lieutenants, captains, and majors who stayed at the line with them than the colonels and generals who sipped French wine, ate local delicacies, and jumped into bed with a different Red Cross nurse every night, and sent men over the top to get wiped out for no reason other than the generals needed to get their men killed to feel like real generals.

“Sir, Lieutenant John Crawford reporting as ordered.”

“Come in, Lieutenant,” Major Boone replied. His voice was calm and gentle, almost devoid of authority. Crawford immediately took his place among the other company commanders and awaited the bad news.

Major Boone picked up a riding crop from the table in front of him, seeming to use it to gesture his syllables as he spoke.

“Gentlemen, thank you for coming on short notice. I’m also sorry I can’t offer you a more detailed briefing, but time is short and there’s a great deal to do before the show begins.” Some of the officers twitched a little. “The show” was how Boone described some kind of offensive. “I just received word from Brigade about an hour ago, and we are to be part of a coordinated effort with other Allied nations to break the Huns’ lines and put an end to this war. French, Italian, and Russian forces will essentially all hammer the Huns from every direction until we can force a breach, through which reinforcements can exploit our advantage. I have heard that this has been in the planning stages for months, but everything was thrown off when the Huns threw everything they had at Verdun. Because of heavy French losses there, the British are taking the lead. If this works, we can perhaps end the war in a matter of days or weeks, and unlike what they promised us back in ’14, maybe we will be home before the leaves fall.”

Indeed, this was far greater than anything they had faced. The entire Allied force attacking at once? Going over the top against veteran German troops who had spent months dug in along the same line, with all that time to strengthen their positions? And how much could they count on the French, considering that the French Army had almost bled to death at Verdun?

Who in their right mind thought up a disaster in the making like this? General Sir Douglas Haig, that’s who. For someone who commanded such brilliant defense actions at Mons and Ypres, why would he now just throw men against fixed positions and hope for the best? Of course, Crawford kept such musings to himself. Speaking them aloud did no one a bit of good.

Major Boone continued, “But for our part, First Battalion will concentrate its efforts here,” he tapped his crop on a tiny speck on the map behind him. “This is the village of De la Croix, which contains a crossroads vital to the Boche. They use it frequently to move reinforcements and supplies along much of their line. If we break their hold on it, we can prevent the Boche from rushing reinforcements to their weakened positions. General Rawlinson himself has stressed the importance of seizing and holding this village, and as De la Croix is behind the German line right in front of us, the capture of that town falls to us."

Captain Shelly, commander of C Company, asked, “What opposition are we expecting in De la Croix?”

“If we break the German line and reach De la Croix, we should run into a single under-strength regiment. Intelligence believes that this regiment was badly mauled at Verdun and was sent here for a rest. Hopefully that means that the occupation force in De la Croix is tired and demoralized. Otherwise, I would hope that someone would think twice before sending a single battalion against a regiment.”

This time Captain Mallory of A Company spoke. “But to even get there, we have to break right through the German line right in front of us. Can we really be expected to even reach De la Croix after that? After the casualties that the Huns are sure to inflict on us? And attacking a town occupied by possibly superior forces, when the Huns are sure to have plenty of warning before we even get there? Sir, with respect, I don't think it matters how tired or demoralized that regiment is. Does anyone up top have an answer for that?”

“For the next few days, our artillery is going to hammer the German line up and down our area of attack. Haig himself expects that all we will have to do is sweep aside stunned defenders to reach our objectives. Now then, get back to your companies and make what preparations you have to make. Dismissed.”

The other company officers, none looking particularly enthusiastic about what was coming, silently filed out of Major Boone’s headquarters, until Boone said, “Lieutenant Crawford, stay behind, if you will.”
Last edited by Ponyboy314 on Wed May 11, 2011 3:22 pm, edited 5 times in total.
"If you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and there's a straw, there it is, that's a straw...and my straw reaches...acrosssssssss the room, and begins to drink your milkshake. I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! SLURRRP! I DRINK IT UP!

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Re: 1916

Post by Hudsonhawk777 » Tue Apr 12, 2011 11:29 pm

Ponyboy,

Excited for the new story man. Thanks for sharing your talents yet again.
Following the path of least resistance is what makes rivers and men crooked.--Unknown

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Re: 1916

Post by nateted4 » Tue Apr 12, 2011 11:32 pm

I've been waiting for you to come back!
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Re: 1916

Post by Ponyboy314 » Wed Apr 13, 2011 1:41 am

“It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it.”
-Robert E. Lee




Crawford stayed behind as the company officers exited, followed by Boone’s staff officers.

“Sergeant Major, could you run those personnel reports to regiment? Lieutenant Crawford and I need this room.”

“Aye Sir,” the Sergeant Major replied, still speaking with that thick Irish accent from his childhood in County Cork. He gathered up an armful of papers and headed out the doorway, stopping to close the filthy army blanket that passed for a door.

Crawford said, rather nervously, “What can I do for you, Sir?”

“John, I received word from Division a couple of hours ago. You’re being promoted to captain. Your promotion becomes official at the end of July. I’m sure they’d just move you up now, but with so much going on…”

“I understand, Sir.”

“Well, you’re a capable officer. You held B Company together after what happened to Captain Law. But if you give me a few good months with B Company, I can probably get you bumped up to battalion staff. It might ruffle a few feathers with the others, but you’re too good at what you do to see you ripped apart out there.”

“Unless that happens during this insane drive we’re making towards the Somme in a few days.”

“I know what you’re thinking, John, and I’m thinking it too. The Huns have been digging in up there for months. I doubt that the artillery will hammer them as hard as Haig hopes. But…but that’s what we’re doing. Can you take De la Croix and hold it? I mean, you’re the best I have. If the others can’t get this done, can you take that town? This just might go our way if we can drive the Boche out of that place and keep them from getting it back.”

“B Company will do its job, Sir.”

“Give them hell, John. But for now, try to get some sleep. Have half your company stand down for now, keep the others on their feet to watch for any probes. If the Huns smell something in the air, they might try to take us off guard, and that could throw everything into disarray. Good night, John.”

“Good night, Sir.”

Lieutenant John Crawford felt himself going cold as he headed down the trench back to B Company’s position. Again, there were nods of acknowledgement as he passed, but Crawford had a difficult time looking his men in the eye. He was already quite certain that most of the eyes he met would be dead in a handful of days. In fact, the chances were quite good that he would be dead next to them, perhaps with his head gone from a well-placed Mauser round, or maybe an artillery shell would land right in front of him, leaving nothing but a shredded boot and a broken Webley revolver. Even if the French could fully commit themselves, this offensive had all the characteristics of a million man suicide charge, and the French had been battered at Verdun to the point that they could not even take charge of a major offensive in their own country.

Crawford did not feel a twinge of guilt as he pondered whether or not it would be better if the Boche overran France and sent the British scurrying back to their island. It’s not as though the Germans were likely to invade Canada. He had heard all the same comments about the “evil Hun” that had to be stopped, lest all of Europe become the Kaiser’s domain, but then, of what value was it to wipe out one’s own country in the attempt? It was bad enough how many were being slaughtered by the Germans, but it was something far worse for British pluck, courtesy of someone who saw men as nothing but pins on a board, to exterminate every young man in Canada. After all, what was it to John Crawford if the Germans took all of France? There were plenty of French in Canada as it was.

Although he was hardly an expert on military history, Crawford was always under the impression that victory in war went to whoever outthought and outfought his enemy. Now, it was just a matter of which side went extinct first.

Crawford returned to the ammo crate that had allowed him barely an hour of sleep and sat himself back down. He looked around himself, trying not to think of how many voices would be silenced in a few days’ time, and whether or not his voice would be among them. He had heard plenty of grumbling, more from the British than the Canadians, about how the Yanks were sitting this one out, as though America could hide from the world forever, but Crawford didn’t blame them one bit. He just wished that his native Canada had had that luxury, but then, part of building an empire is using imperial troops to conquer more territory and recruit more imperial troops until there are no more lands to conquer and Alexander begins his weeping.

Colour Sergeant Benning, smoking a stale cigarette, came up and stood tall in front of Lieutenant Crawford. Crawford met his gaze and began to speak.

“Sergeant, get all noncommissioned officers here right away.”
Last edited by Ponyboy314 on Mon Apr 18, 2011 7:09 am, edited 2 times in total.
"If you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and there's a straw, there it is, that's a straw...and my straw reaches...acrosssssssss the room, and begins to drink your milkshake. I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! SLURRRP! I DRINK IT UP!

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Re: 1916

Post by Ponyboy314 » Wed Apr 13, 2011 5:26 am

“The whole art of war consists of getting what is on the other side of the hill.”
-Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington




Over the next few minutes, Lieutenant John Crawford informed all noncommissioned officers in B Company that in a few days, they would be going over the top in the face of a well-entrenched and determined enemy, in the hopes of taking a town behind the lines that none of them had ever heard of, praying along the way that those currently holding the town were neither well-entrenched nor determined. Most of those surrounding him had begun this briefing with curious expressions, and ended it with blank ones. Most of them had gone over the top before, and knew what it was like to desperately try to cross no-man’s land when every blasted Hun could see their every move, but now, the effort was larger than ever, and inevitably, the death toll would be as well.

But at least some of them were silently hopeful. Perhaps the worst of the war was imminent, but if General Haig’s plans proved to be sound, it might also end the war in only a few days. At least a few of them began to naively believe that all they had to do was hold out for another few days and their part in this insane tale would be over. Crawford was not so optimistic, and after all, he knew perfectly well that a great number of the Boche must have seen the war’s imminent end as General Von Falkenhayn sent them into the thoughtless slaughter at Verdun months earlier, and the war was no closer to being over.

After the briefing, the noncommissioned officers began to disperse, with the sergeants and corporals calling together their sections and repeating what Lieutenant Crawford had told them. Crawford just watched as their faces froze in either dread or, for the minority, hope. As they began to disperse themselves, he could see that a great many began to sit wherever they could and begin writing. He could easily guess who those letters were for and why they were being written. Crawford immediately began to contemplate writing his own mother and father, but if the offensive against German positions along the Somme was not for a few days, he had time, and as exhausted as he was, he probably couldn’t compose anything meaningful anyway. Rather, he just fell asleep, hoping that nothing would wake him up in a good, long while. This time, he did not dream.

It was June 24th, 1916.

Against his expectations, Lieutenant Crawford actually slept for a few hours, even though his noncommissioned officers had been busy for much of that time, trying get their sections ready for what was coming. On his own initiative, Colour Sergeant Benning had already sent a handful of men to the regimental supply depot, where it seemed as though everyone was trying to get their hands on ammunition, bandages, and everything else they might not be able to get for a while after the offensive began. In fact, Crawford even woke up with a couple of unopened boxes of .455 ammo on the crate next to him. It was, by his pocket watch, just after three in the morning, meaning that he had managed about five hours of sleep, and he couldn’t express in the spoken word how much better he felt, even though he would be going out there into no-man’s land in barely a week along with the rest of his company. Somehow, everything just seemed better if contemplated after a few hours of sleep. But it was back to the war for Crawford. He wasn’t the type of officer to sit around and let his sergeants do everything. He got up, shook off the cramps and cobwebs, and found Benning.

“Sergeant?”

“Sir?”

“Does everyone in the company have a full load of ammuntion?”

“Yes Sir.”

“Do the medics…”

“Fully resupplied, Sir.”

“Have you posted…”

“The sentries have been in place for about two hours, Sir. They’ll be relieved by Corporal Hook’s section in another hour.”

“And have they…”

“No sounds or movement so far, Sir. If the Huns are trying anything, they’re being rather quiet about it.”

“Has anyone from…”

“No Sir, no more runners from Battalion or Regiment. I don’t think you need to be anywhere for a while, Sir.”

“Okay then. Well, I need to find myself some…”

“We just opened a crate of hardtack, Sir. Also, we got our hands on some cheese and a good supply of Limey tea. We were hoping to find some coffee, but there isn’t any lying around that I know of.”

Unable to think of anything else that needed doing at the moment, Lieutenant Crawford simply said, “Very good, then. Carry on, Colour Sergeant.”
"If you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and there's a straw, there it is, that's a straw...and my straw reaches...acrosssssssss the room, and begins to drink your milkshake. I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! SLURRRP! I DRINK IT UP!

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Re: 1916

Post by skarface » Wed Apr 13, 2011 4:22 pm

This is great!


Moar, please!
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Re: 1916

Post by Ponyboy314 » Thu Apr 14, 2011 10:35 pm

“War is too serious a matter to entrust to military men.”
-Georges Clemenceau




After getting himself fed, Lieutenant Crawford had some time to think. In just over a month, he would be a captain, provided that he even survived the nightmare that would commence in another week, and even so, if things went as he feared, he could end up in command of a company that no longer existed. But he also knew that Major Liam Boone was, among other positive qualities, a man of his word. If Crawford could keep it together and command his company as best he could, he could find himself fighting a war with paperwork rather than his Webley revolver, staying in Battalion headquarters as others got slaughtered going over the top. All in all, there were worse places to be than handling logistics from a relatively safe, if rather Spartan battalion command post.

But for those who haven’t the luxury of thinking more than a day ahead when lives could be measured in hours or minutes, a captaincy and a softer assignment seemed so far in the future that it barely rated contemplation. A month before his promotion becomes official? He had seen dozens of men die in a matter of minutes, and this time, the whole cast of characters was going across no man’s land, and of course, officers had to lead. He only had to think about the recent memory of Captain Law, falling backwards into the trench, missing most of his body above the waist, to know that his chances of seeing captain, or the inside of battalion headquarters again, were probably not good. Soldiers by their very nature love to gamble, and he would not have bet much on ever rising above first lieutenant.

But the show was still a week away, and his chances of still being alive when the time to go over the top came were probably pretty good. At least he had a few days before his minute-to-minute chances plummeted.

For the most part, the trenches were quiet. It was the usual eerie calm before the big show. Regiment would be sending out patrols for a good portion of the night, keeping an eye on German positions and hopefully, keep them ignorant to the fact that they would be in for a great deal of discomfort in a few days. Patrols were typical, and to not send them would assuredly tell the Boche that something was not right. Over the next couple of hours after Crawford woke up, he saw a flare or two fly from his lines over no-man’s land. It could easily be to provide light to expose any German patrols, but almost certainly, some Canadians were out there somewhere, but if they were, they were being quiet, or the crack of rifle shots would have reached his ears by now.

That was all fine with Lieutenant Crawford. Whatever was going to happen before the show, he wasn’t concerned if it wasn’t happening right in front of his position.

It had gotten around to almost four o’clock in the morning, about as black as night could get and often the scariest time at the front. Nighttime played hell with sounds. They traveled farther and pinpointing their direction could be problematic. A German patrol could be within pistol range before even a keen-eyed sentry detected them.

But Private Horace Keene was more keen-eyed that most.

Shortly after four in the morning, one of Crawford’s men found him smoking a cigarette to while away the time.

“Sir?”

“What is it, Hackman?”

“Sentries report possible movement in front of their position, Sir."

“Are they certain?”

“No Sir, but Keene thinks it’s likely enough to report.”

“Very well. Have Harrison contact regiment and see if we can’t get a couple of flares in the air.”

“Yes Sir.”

Lieutenant Crawford headed towards where his sentries were posted, nudging Colour Sergeant Benning to follow him. They reached the position where Crawford stepped up on the platform next to a nervous Private Horace Keene.

“Something to report, Private?”

“Yes Sir. I thought I heard movement out there. No voices, but something sounded like movement. Like something was being scraped against the dirt. I only heard it for a second or so Sir, but there might be something out there.”

After another minute, during which time Crawford furiously motioned for everyone nearby to put their cigarettes out, no other sounds were heard, not a one. There was no wind to cover any sounds, but Keene thought he had heard something, and that was enough for Crawford to at least entertain the idea that something was out there. It was not for nothing that Keene pulled a lot of sentry duty.

But then another minute went by, and then another, and no one was making a sound, not in the trench, and not in front of it.

Private Keene whispered, “Sorry, Sir. Could have sworn I heard something.”

“No, you did the right thing, Private. I’d rather…”

At that second, a brilliant flare popped into the sky and arced right over B Company’s position, but even as the area in front of their trench was bathed in light, nothing out there moved or made a sound.

Not until Keene saw a rock, one that seemed to be sinking into the ground, and it took him a second to realize that rocks are rarely that smooth or perfectly shaped. It was then that he understood that he was actually staring at a German helmet only ten yards in front of his position.
Last edited by Ponyboy314 on Wed Apr 20, 2011 6:04 am, edited 2 times in total.
"If you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and there's a straw, there it is, that's a straw...and my straw reaches...acrosssssssss the room, and begins to drink your milkshake. I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! SLURRRP! I DRINK IT UP!

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Re: 1916

Post by Ponyboy314 » Fri Apr 15, 2011 1:13 am

“Either war is obsolete or men are.”
-R. Buckmeister Fuller




It was well-known to everyone in the trenches that when illuminated by a flare, the only way to avoid detection was to remain completely still, and even those who had had this lesson drummed into their heads time and time again still tended to lose their nerve and slowly try to position themselves behind some kind of cover, and when they did, their movements were spotted and then the shooting began. But as foolish as that Hun had been, it had still taken the sharp eye of the appropriately-named Private Horace Keane to spot the movement.

He simply pointed, while Crawford followed along with his eyes and barely saw the top of that German helmet until it disappeared into an impact crater. Crawford immediately got his men in action.

“Enemy patrol, ten yards! Take positions and open fire!”

Immediately, B Company jumped onto the wooden step that ran along the trench and shouldered their Lee Enfield rifles. The moment that Crawford even gave the order, the Germans began popping out of their cover and firing their Mausers, the shots kicking up dirt around Crawford and Keane. B Company began firing, forcing the Germans’ heads back down into the dirt.

The sound of rifle fire cracked the silence wide open as war returned to B Company. One German barely put his eyes over the edge of the pit before a .303 round took off the top of his head. Some private threw a hand grenade that almost reached the crater before detonating, causing at least one enemy to unleash a terrified yelp. Another grenade was tossed, this one landing in the crater, with the sounds of agony following its detonation.

Lieutenant Crawford spied two of his men a couple of yards down preparing to set up their Lewis Gun, until Crawford yelled, “No! Machine gun fire is sure to attract artillery!” He then turned to his left and said, “Corporal Wynn, take your section fifty yards left and flank them! Be prepared for close action!”

“Yes Sir!” came the reply, as Corporal Wynn gathered his men and prepared to box the Boche in their dirt hole. He led his section the specified distance and over the edge of the trench. As the rest of the company kept their enemy suppressed, Corporal Wynn’s men charged, lobbing grenades as they moved. One detonated right in the center of the crater, blowing off a man’s arm, leaving him in the dirt, holding a bleeding stump, and no one in Crawford’s company had to understand German to know that he was screaming for his mother.

As Wynn’s section got to within a few yards of the crater, one enemy soldier, either foolish or brave, stood upright and fired his Mauser. One of Wynn’s men immediately fell backward with a gaping hole in his throat. He was dead in seconds. His killer was immediately shredded by rifle fire and died where he fell. The others in the crater immediately dropped their weapons and began to climb out of the hole, but not before Wynn himself acted instinctively and shot the first one in the chest.

“Cease fire, cease fire!” Crawford yelled. “Get them out of there before we have a barrage coming down on us!” Wynn’s section forced the remaining five Germans back to the trench at rifle point. Every German looked stoic, almost to the point of defiance.

“Look at this, Sir!” Corporal Wynn yelled triumphantly. “Got us an officer!”

Not feeling particularly triumphant himself, Lieutenant Crawford simply asked, “Corporal, which of your men did you lose?”

“Private MacDonald, Sir.”

“Peel off two of your men to collect his body. Take the rest of your section and get ready to march these bastards back to Regiment and let them deal with them.” Crawford turned to his right. “Sergeant Bower, organize a detail. Get them out there and collect their weapons, and bring back any wounded Huns, but you stay here. You’re the only one in the whole company who can speak that nonsense they call a language.”

“Yes Sir.” Sergeant Bower put together a detail of six men but stood fast himself.

Crawford, not amused by the defiant posture of the enemies who now stood before him, took a good, long look at what appeared to be a German lieutenant.

“His weapon, Sir.” Corporal Wynn said, handing Crawford a Luger.

“Keep it, Wynn. So,” he said, eyeing the German officer. “You speak English?”

“Englisch?” Nein.”

“Francais?”

“Nein.”

“I thought all these fools spoke English or French. Sergeant Bower, ask him his name.”

“Wie heissen Sie?”

The German officer stood fully erect, as though being inspected by a general. “Leutnant Friedrich Talhoffer. Sehr erfreut.”

“Sir, he says he’s pleased to meet you.”

Crawford replied to Lieutenant Talhoffer, “Lieutenant John Crawford. One of my men is dead. I’m not so pleased to meet you.” Sergeant Bower translated.

The reply came, “Sein mann war ein Soldat. Dieses geschiet im Krieg.”

“Sir, he says that our man was a soldier, and that these things happen in war.”

“Well, tell him his war is over. Corporal Wynn, get these bastards out of my sight.”

“Yes Sir.”

As the prisoners were marched back to the regimental headquarters, Crawford saw the stilled body of Private MacDonald as it was gently lowered into the trench.

“This damned war…”
Last edited by Ponyboy314 on Wed Apr 20, 2011 6:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
"If you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and there's a straw, there it is, that's a straw...and my straw reaches...acrosssssssss the room, and begins to drink your milkshake. I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! SLURRRP! I DRINK IT UP!

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Re: 1916

Post by Ponyboy314 » Sat Apr 16, 2011 12:57 am

This story has been suspended due to lack of interest.

PB
"If you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and there's a straw, there it is, that's a straw...and my straw reaches...acrosssssssss the room, and begins to drink your milkshake. I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! SLURRRP! I DRINK IT UP!

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Re: 1916

Post by colinz » Sat Apr 16, 2011 4:20 am

Fuck NOOOOOOOOOOO. Just because we don't feel the need to spam every story with OMGITFAKKINGL33t, don't feel that we don't appreciate it!

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Re: 1916

Post by MaconCJ7 » Sat Apr 16, 2011 5:42 am

colinz wrote:Fuck NOOOOOOOOOOO. Just because we don't feel the need to spam every story with OMGITFAKKINGL33t, don't feel that we don't appreciate it!

Quoted for accuracy. This is a great story, please continue.
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Re: 1916

Post by Snapshot7.62 » Sat Apr 16, 2011 12:19 pm

Mr. E. Monkey wrote:Very, very excited to see another Ponyboy story. :D
Yes, this! Please feel free to continue writing.
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Re: 1916

Post by kcor_77 » Sat Apr 16, 2011 1:17 pm

Ponyboy314 wrote:This story has been suspended due to lack of interest.

PB
Say it isn't so please say it! :cry:
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Yesterday's a dream
Today is a solution

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Re: 1916

Post by Kopf-Jaeger » Sat Apr 16, 2011 1:37 pm

Damn Ponyboy! Don't leave us hanging like this!!!!!! You write great stories...this one had me begging for more!!!! WTH?
There is a thin blue line that seperates society from chaos, that line is stained with the blood of our brothers, never dishonor that line.

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Re: 1916

Post by airmandan » Sat Apr 16, 2011 7:25 pm

more

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Re: 1916

Post by nateted4 » Sat Apr 16, 2011 10:15 pm

moar
Raptor wrote:Carrying weapons openly and dressing in cammies (even if legal in the area) will get you killed.
Kommander wrote:So now ... we [are] worried that we may be faced with multiple heavily armed and armoured assailants in our day to day life ... I must have accidentally stumbled into the Somalia chapter subform or something.

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Re: 1916

Post by Mr. E. Monkey » Sat Apr 16, 2011 10:44 pm

Ponyboy314 wrote:This story has been suspended due to lack of interest.

PB
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Re: 1916

Post by TheGunslinger » Sun Apr 17, 2011 3:56 am

You write well, ponyboy - but you are a fair dick head a lot of the time.
Bureaucracy destroys initiative. There is little that bureaucrats hate more than innovation, especially innovation that produces better results than the old routines. Improvements always make those at the top of the heap look inept. Who enjoys appearing inept? ~A Guide to Trial and Error in Government, Bene Gesserit Archive

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