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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

May MGWAT


Ozzie
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Marina has suggested a topic, and I have taken the liberty of putting up her suggestion.

"Alone."

I think it is one that will stretch the members, and bring forth some interesting entries.

Thanks for your continued support to this section of the forum, Marina.

Cheers

Kim

Michealdr, you are on notice for a future topic. :P

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Just to get the ball rolling.

I put this in my Blog a while ago, but feel it fits here. (Slightly edited)

I might have another one later and remove this, but in case I don't,

Enter the Woods Alone.

They lay, in a somewhat unknown quantity, beneath the damp, fungal soil of the woods. The trees tower above them; trees that are only ninety years young. Once blown to kingdom come, once wretched needles of what they once were, their offspring now sway to and fro, over the last known resting place of the men who found death in what was once, and except for a brief time, is now again, the haunts of forest animals and birds.

A quietness pervades the shadows of those ninety year old trees. It shuts out the hustle and bustle of the twenty first century. The rise and fall of the ground, although covered in a soft carpet of blackberry leaves, still shows the impact of artillery, and misery.

The dead leaf matter soaks up the moisture of the high water table, outlining the saps and trenches of all those years ago. A soft cup like depression, sometimes a few feet wide, sometimes yards across, sometimes holding water, as if it were meant to be a pond, shows where a man might have sheltered, or been blown to hell.

If you sink quietly into the stillness, removing yourself from being, you can just faintly hear, and sometimes see, the life of the woods, going about their daily toil.

A spider, his miracle of minuscule micron thread, highlighted by the dew, sparkling as if made of crystals, hangs in an age old pattern in the dawn’s light amongst the reborn vegetation, there, in all its’ splendour for your eyes to see.

The most gentle of rustlings from above, reaches your ears, and you know, but can not be sure, that it is the wings of a bird. Your eyes search the branches, it must be there. Possibly an Owl, settling in up on high, preparing for a days rest, gazing down at you with distain. Or a hawk, preparing to leave the shelter of the wood, to hover over the fields of ripe wheat, in search of prey.

The dappled sunlight through the canopy causes small dark clouds to dance before your eyes, and so you look down, trying to clear your vision. You see small stones, cast aside from the path, and you wonder. These stones; were they there when the men dug in, were they there when the men died? Did the men feel the sharp edges bite into them, as they lay there dying? Or were their wounds so great, so painful, that they did not feel the stones, or the mud, or the cold, as their life drained away, as they lay there, in the skeleton of the woods?

No headstones, nothing to show that men lay in tatters beneath this fertile soil. Just the prints of deer, and fox, left on the ever damp forest floor. No plough to turn up the iron. No cold slab of stone memorial to say who, and how many lie in the dank, shaded earth beneath the spreading branches that wave overhead.

The sudden cooing of a dove sends a message. The dove of peace, his forebears who once inhabited this wood when it was hundreds of years old, he cooes gently to remind you that this is a place of contemplation and sadness, and yet, his coo also brings with it, a sense of rest and forgiveness. Do those who reside here beneath the dark, damp soil rest in peace?

A gentle early morning breeze whispers through the sentinels that guard the secrets of the woods. The old, yellow leaves float softly down, to join their brown, decaying brothers on the floor of the woods.

Another layer to cover what is buried beneath the soft damp floor of the woods.

Kim

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Oooo! I actually have one that fits this month's topic. good choice, Marina. :)

Hostile Sky

Outnumbered and alone, Sgt. Victor Chapman of the Lafayette Escadrille becomes the first US airman to lose his life in aerial combat.

HostileSky.jpg

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Darkness around us as I crawl back towards our trenches. We're at the German wire - I try to squirm through the hole we've cut. A flash and an explosion and I know no more.

...

Dawn, and I awake. My arm hangs at a strange angle, and intense pain hits me. I try to move, but the explosion has thrown me into the tangle of barbed wire. I turn my head as far as I can, but there is no one.

...

The sun is overhead, and I feel its rays burning my face. I'm thirsty, but I have no water bottle.

...

Night brings relief from the sun, but no more. As I fade in and out of consciousness I hear the scurry of rats close by. Horror overcomes me - if they find me I won't be able to keep them away. Will they wait until I am dead before they start to eat?

...

Suddenly I hear the stealthy sounds of crawling men. I cannot hope that they are mine. I can only hope for a quick death. I try to pray. I hear a rifle bolt cock.

...

An authoritative voice, speaking German, of course "Nick sheesen". What does that mean? Will they leave me here to die?

Firm hands pull me gently free of the wire. They splint my arm and tie it close to my body. Then they carefully drag me to their trench.

"For you the war is over." Do I care? I'm no longer alone.

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As the putrid tang hit his tongue he gagged, and involuntarily spat the filthy water out. His dry throat craved the need for moisture, but the liquid would not get past his tongue. Raising his chest up from the pool, he carefully pushed himself away from the water, trying not to awaken the fire in his legs. A whizzing overhead made him pause, then covering his head with his arms, he drove his face into the mud, as the blast washed over him. Small hot shards of metal pierced his uniform, his back stinging like a hundred bees had driven their spears in. His body lifted and rolled, trying to get away from the searing pain, only to reawaken the torture that was his shattered legs.

He screamed, a thin raspy scream, through a throat, dry and sore. His eyes stared upwards towards the bright blue sky that dimmed and darkened, as the screams became sobs. He could feel the blood running through every vein, throbbing, threatening to burst out. His skin shuddered, his limbs trembled, causing the broken bones to grind and stab, the pulsing jets of blood to spurt anew.

The world ceased to exist, as his eyelids fluttered shut, the brain mercifully shutting down his consciousness.

He saw Blue coming out of the mist, grinning, a rolly drooping from his lips.

“What you doing here, ol’ mate? You sleepin’ on duty? You’ll get a blast for that.”

The captain’s face, red veined, cold blue eyes protruding, stared at him from inches away.

“Get up, soldier, you are on report!”

He forced his eyes open, his heart thudding in his chest. Why was it so quiet? Where were the others? Why was he alone? What had happened?

His thoughts chased each other so quickly, he felt he must be mad, but somehow knew he should not move; to move would cause intolerable pain, so he stared at the dark sky, willing his limbs to be still.

Dark clouds invaded his sight, making him shut his eyes, shaking his head from side to side. Again he forced them open, this time feeling the wet clammy mud beneath him, feeling the blood escaping, thickening, tightening, over his skin.

Loud thunder rolled around him, lights flashed: he remembered.

A raid, they had been sent on a raid. They had trained for it, crept out to the tapes and gone forward. It was when they were returning, floundering through the debris, carrying their spoils, that the German artillery had opened up. The darkness had come alive with fiery white red blasts, verey lights, and screams. He’d been following Blue, but there was a flash, and Blue was gone, nowhere to be seen. On his hands and knees, every verey light an opportunity to scour the ground, he’d searched for his mate. A whirring frizzle descended on him, white lightening exploded in his mind, and he’d felt his body lift into the air, turning over and over, until it landed with a squelching thud, splinters of blue in his mind, and then nothing.

Nothing until he awakened, his body asking him to quench its thirst.

A thought crystallized in his mind. It grew and overtook the other thoughts that raced through.

He now knew fear. His mind qualified the thought.

Fear was not the thought of going over the top. Fear was not the thought of bullets ripping into you.

Fear was knowing that you were dying; without ever seeing your family again, or your mates, without the chance to right wrongs, or to say what you really meant.

Fear was to die alone in a stinking muddy hole far from home, and for what?

Kim

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Bloody hell, Micheal, that's a bit scary. It seems we were somewhere on the same level of ether tonight.

I posted, then looked at the thread, and said....(Not for delicate ears)

Marina, Ta, your suggestion got the music playing agian.

You guys can say which one I delete.

Kim

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I just realised something. War Art does not appear to be showing up in View New Posts. I have been hitting View new Posts every time I log on, to keep up with what is being posted, and War Art did not come up, even though there were posts having been added to War Art. :angry2:

Hmmm, lesson to self, do it the long way; visit every forum, with in the forum, don't trust View New Posts.!!!

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It shows up in my VNP, Kim. Otherwise I wouldn't have noticed your comment!

Gwyn

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And I just found a very interesting post about Mouquet Farm , a subject that is quite close to me, that it appears I've missed in new posts.

Now, sometimes I am in a hurry, but certain posts do attract my attention. Anything that may relate to the AIF definitely gets my attention, but yet I have never seen this particular thread in new posts when I log on?

Am I going crazy, or what????

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Service did a book of poems called "Rhymes of a Red Cross Man" based on his experiences as an ambulance driver. I have a lovely leather bound pocket edition inscribed by a Gunner in the Canadian Siberian Expeditionary Force.

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Alone

A single shaft of light broke through the only gap in the tightly drawn curtains. She watched the particles of dust dance in the air and she remembered as a child her mother telling her that these were the angels and the souls of the dead watching over her.

She turned knowing her eyes would fall on the framed photograph on the table next to the armchair she had been sitting in since…..

Two proud men, clearly brothers stared back from the sepia tinted paper. One, Charlie, the younger, sat ram rod straight in a chair his hat resting on his lap. The other Jack, the elder, stood on his left his arm protectively on his brother’s shoulder. Both of them looked suitably martial for the photographer but she could see the smile behind Jack’s eyes…wherever Jack was there was a smile somewhere…that was her Jack…her darling Jackie.

She turned away suddenly angry…she had told him not to go, but he had said he couldn’t let Charlie go on his own. They didn’t quarrel often but she remembered how they had argued that day and she had ran back home crying, and how he had followed her and told her that he had wanted to tell her properly…but he had spoken to her father and he had consented and that he had got a special licences and….. He couldn’t finish the sentence, her arms were around his neck and he was being kissed.

Thinking back now it seemed as if they hadn’t stopped kissing from that moment until it was time for him to go.

She remembered waking that morning and finding he wasn’t lay there next to her. He was sat on the end of the bed staring blankly at the wall. He didn’t even respond to her voice and even after she had reached out and touched his back it seemed an age before he acknowledged her with a startled turn and a forced smile. He left that morning. He told her he didn’t want her to wave him off. He wanted to remember her lay in the bed her hair cascaded on the pillow…waiting for him. He dressed in silence and leant down and kissed her…she tried to speak…tell him that she loved him but he stopped her with a finger on her lips and then with a kiss. There would be time for talking when he got back. He left the room…he didn’t look back.

His letters were cheerful enough; Jackie always tried to be cheerful. Even after he’d got to the front he told her that it was best to always be cheerful. She remembered his reply when she told him the news that she was pregnant; “Albert” he had said “ he will be a boy and we shall call him Albert and if it is a girl we shall call him Mary….after her beautiful mother ”. It was soon after that she had received the postcard of them both he had written on the back. “Something to show Albert (or Mary)…from a proud father and uncle.”

The months passed and her love for Jackie grew as her belly grew. He tried to remain cheerful but it was clear from his letters that the grim reality of war was telling on him. He always finished the letters “read this to Albert (or Mary) from a proud father” and she would read the letter aloud sat in the armchair in the parlour. The armchair he used to sit in when he visited her house when they were first courting even her parents called it Jack’s chair.

She didn’t want to open the telegram; her father had to prize it gently from her fingers. He didn’t have to say anything the way his breath changed as he read it to himself told her all she needed to know. She ran to Jack’s parent’s house….Charlie had been killed in the same action….Mary fainted.

Three weeks later she lost the baby. The doctor had said it was the shock of news of Jack’s death. They had taken the baby away without her seeing it although the midwife had told her it was a boy. Albert.

Her life was empty now Jack was gone and now she didn’t even have that part of him that had been growing in side her. She was utterly alone.

Mary watched the dust particles turn in the beam of light….perhaps Albert was there dancing with the soul of his proud father.

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Well written, well paced - well done!

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Alone………..

Ever since I joined the Army the one thing I always wanted was to be alone.

Only for a short while, just to think my own thoughts, dream my own dreams.

Reflect on pleasant memories, thoughts of home and family………….

But, of course, there was always somebody else about.

Mates laughing and joking or chatting away when you could do with just a little silence.

NCO’s shouting, cursing, instructing, ordering, drilling……………

None of them could utter a word below the level of a loud shout……………….

Officer’s inspections, parades, guard duty, fatigues, route marching, trench digging, instruction, meal times, trying to sleep……….

Always somebody else there………………….

And now I am alone, O God, I wish I wasn’t………..

I ‘m lying in No Man’s Land after being left behind from a trench raid that went wrong. I don’t know what happened.

One minute we were leaving the German trench with a prisoner and the next there was bullets and bombs flying about from behind us.

Then our covering party opened up and there was bullets and bombs coming from both sides so I just ran until I fell in this hole and I’ve not seen or heard a soul since.

The sun has been up for over an hour and I can’t move out of this hole until night fall.

Not wounded, no broken bones just a few cuts and bruises.

Been here since just after midnight or thereabouts and at least another 9 or 10 hours to go before I dare make a move. And I don’t have a watch.

Can’t have a cigarette or the smoke would give me away.

Already been sniped at once when I chanced a look in the direction of the German lines. Missed me by a couple of inches. Good shot you ******* whoever you are.

Tried to sleep when it started getting light but something rustling woke me up.

Probably rats going home for the day.

I have no food, very little water and the sun is already starting to warm things up.

It’s going to be a hot, long day. Too hot to sleep now even if I felt like it.

Must keep my eyes open in case something happens or anybody comes……….

Not that anybody will, but then, perhaps someone might………….

And all I really want is another human being to be here.

Not to talk to, just to be here, because I feel so alone, frightened and helpless.

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Bloody heck Gunboat, that hits hard.

Well done! I especially like how you used "she had been sitting in since…..".

You drew us in, and then the loss at the end!

One of your best.

Kim

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