Unnamed Journal Volume 2, Issue 3 - Page 24

The Teutonic Beast "Trench raid. Be ready in an hour." Henry looked around the dazed, angry faces of his command. "Be ready in an hour!" T he idea behind a trench raid was to sneak across no-man's land into the enemy's forward trench, surprise them, grab prisoners, and run back before general alarm could be manifested. Standard equipment, inherited from British practice, included persuaders (clubs with sharp steel spikes studded along the thick end), knuckle-knives, come-alongs (strips of barbed wire tied into a noose, to bring prisoners back) and a ration of fragmentation grenades. Henry had his 1911, but it was mostly for display on this mission - once or twice he gave thought to leaving it behind in the officer's dugout, but it had always struck him as cowardly. Given how much easier an officer had it, he reasoned, every now and again he had to take the extra risk of the enemy thinking him a juicier target. They had bootblack on their faces and they froze so the Germans would think them dead men - if they saw them at all - when the star-shells went up and up and burst in the sky. As they slipped quietly along the shell-hills and gullies, more bodies of Germans became visible to them. They looked much the same as their comrade in the trench: sickly with ripped uniforms. Henry acknowledged internally that there were a few more of them than he might have guessed. But the state of them made his point anyway. Such ragged creatures as these were nothing to desert from. He would teach this platoon the hard way. He would make them save themselves. They made the forward trench and found it empty. This was odd, as the continuance of star-shells from behind the German lines made it clear there was still enemy presence in this sector. But the trench was quiet. The dugouts showed no signs of life. There was literally no one. Slowly the platoon gathered around Henry. They looked at him as if begging him for the signal to pull back to Suicide Ditch. But he refused to give it. He wanted an idea of why the trench was abandoned first. Even if its emptiness was both welcome and proved his point more, Henry needed to know. A small sign would do. Somehow, they all seemed to smell it at once. A putrescence, somehow different from the common facility that so many men, living and dead, produced together. A smell of rot beyond the normal wastage left to return to the earth in no-man's-land. Henry set off in the direction of the smell with his knuckle-knife before him. Others followed after. The scent grew stronger as they creeped along the earth walls. Soon Henry felt as though he might retch, but he took short quick breaths and held himself together. Soon they came upon a dugout lit from inside with an ugly green light. The dugout had a fractured wooden plank for a door. Henry drew his 1911 and set himself. Matthews and Corporal Smith came alongside with their persuaders. They looked to Henry. He nodded. As one they kicked the wooden plank aside and sprang, weapons ready, into the dugout. Q‘”ΝΡ•Ή Ι•…‘•…Ёё•΄)±₯­”„΅…Ρ•Ι₯…°™½Ι”…ΉΝΡ…‰‰•…Ёё•₯ȁΉ½Ν”…ΉΡ‘Ι½…ΡΜΈ ½ΙΑ½Ι…°M΅₯Ρ …•Έ5…ΡΡ‘•έ́Ι½…Ή•Έ!•ΉΙ䰁•ε•Μ)™₯ᕐ…Ёё”•ΉΡ•Θ½˜Ρ‘”Ι½½΄°Ν‘Υ‘‘•Ι•…Ή…Α•Έ)UΉ‘•ΙΉ•…Ρ Ρ‘”±…Ι₯ΉœΙ••Έ±…ΉΡ•ΙΈΝ…Ё„Α₯±”½˜Ι₯ΑΑ•‘Υ΅…Έ±₯΅‰ΜΈ=ΈΝ½΅”½˜Ρ‘•΄Ρ‘”™±•Ν ‘ΥΉœ±½½Ν”…Ή