Note: A friend and I made this. It is our own product, copied off of nothing. If you copy it, I'll be really mad and I'll hunt you down and snap you over my knee like dry kindling. Unfortunately, I am making no money off of this. Maybe someday... Anyway, please leave a review to let me know how I'm doing.

Loud on the Western Front

0600 hours, May 17, 1917

The cannonade was growing louder and louder by the minute, if anyone could hear it. Royal Army Lieutenant Alec MacArthur certainly couldn't hear anything over the boom of his own artillery battery, and even if he could, he wouldn't have been impressed. He had been in France for nearly two years now, and a bombardment this size was not anything special.
"Sir, that's the last of it!" an artillery sergeant yelled. "We're out!"
"All right then! Let's hope those poor little apes on the line make it through!" Turning away, he added under his breath, "God help them now."

0407 hours, May 17, 1917

It was so cold Jacob could see his breath. He'd woken up just moments before, whether awakened by the cold or his nightmare he couldn't tell. Shivering in his Royal Army uniform as he sat on his cot, he realized he needed to go to a bathroom. Unfortunately, bathrooms and outhouses were rare in the trenches.
Jacob was in a small room dug out of the ground as part of a trench. It had been built about three weeks before, since the last time the regiment had been able to push forward.
Yawning, he dragged his boots over from near the tiny fireplace where he'd left them the night before, hoping they would dry out. He picked them up with his toes by the laces and dragged them accross the rough board floor without getting up from his cot. He reached into his pack sitting next to the cot and pulled out an extra pair of itchy wool socks. The socks served three purposes, keeping his feet warm, helping to prevent "trench foot", and to help fill his boots, which were a bit too big.
Jacob had heard horror stories of feet literally "dying on the vine", getting gangrenous, and having to be amputated. He'd heard that men would press a needle into the sole of his foot and see how far it went before he could feel it. Ever since, it had been his morning custom, no matter where he was, to change and wash his socks and rub his feet with his hands for a quarter of an hour to get them warm before he put his boots on. It was a trick he'd learned from... well, he couldn't exactly remember who he'd learned it from, but it worked. While his squadmates were grumbling about cold and sometimes numb feet, Jacob's feet were always warm.
He was glad for that.

0458 hours, May 17, 1917

Jacob saw the motorcycle drive up the trail of mud that served as a road to the colonel's little hut just below the ridgeline and just out of sight of the Germans. A courier can only mean one thing, he thought as he watched the courier dismount from his motorcycle and jog up to the sentry gaurding the hut. An attack is on, most likely ours. The courier waited as the sentry disappeared into the hut, and seconds later the colonel came out, grizzled, unshaven and still half-asleep. Everyone in the trenches knew to grab whatever sleep you could, because you never knew when you might be ordered to charge at the enemy just 500 yards away and in a similar situation.
Jacob had been through several charges before, and he knew that being able to run fast, first forward, then back to your own lines, was probably even more important than knowing how to shoot well. Jacob's long and quick stride had saved him more than once, and yet he had only been able to fire his rifle in anger twice this entire month.
Better go and wake the lieutenant, he thought as the courier handed the colonel a sealed paper from some fool general, one who was probably at that very moment dozing, or having breakfast with his other general friends, and talking about what he thought the exact yardage the attack gained or lost, or making preparations for his vacation in Paris, while his men were fighting and dying for a cause they no longer believed in.
He turned and walked briskly back up to the trenches.

0515 hours, May 17, 1917

By now the word was official, handed down from colonel to lieutenant colonel to major to capitan to lieutenant, who broke the news to the troops, who groaned, cussed, prayed, and , in one case Jacob noticed, vomited.
Jacob went back to his tiny dug-out room and opened his pack. He pulled out his will, a letter to a friend in London, and his diary, setting them on the cot. Then, he pulled out the things that wouldn't help him -mess tin, bag of rations, personal effects, etc.
His pack lightened, he picked up his Enfield MKII rifle and his combat webbing. The webbing was a green color and quite uncomfortable, but carried his most important items -clips of .303 caliber ammunition, several hand grenades, combat knife, and the holster for his Webley revolver. The Webley had been given to him by a wounded and perhaps delusional officer being carried from the field, and was his most prized posession. It held eight .45 caliber bullets, all of which could save his life if he had to fight in the trenches.
Lastly, he pulled on his pack and helmet, and donned his gas mask. He then stepped out and joined his company, waiting for the officers to blow their whistles and signal the charge.

0605 hours May 17,1917

The men waited in the muddy trenches for half an hour before the first artillery shells streaked overhead. Jacob's squad leader was peering over the edge of the trench exposing as little of his body as possible while still being able to see through his binoculars.
"Yeah! That one got'em mates! There won't be many Huns left for us to take today, boys!" he yelled to his men.
Stupid cherry, Jacob thought. How some of our officers came to be officers escapes my logic. A good sergeant would have already had experience enough in this war to know that the bombardments never worked well, even if they used gas. The trenches were too deep, the Germans were too tough, and the artillery almost never hit it's mark anyway. The only way to kill Germans was either close-in or with a "tank". Jacob had seen those terrifying steel monsters in action several times before, and had seen machine gun bullets just bounce off their armor.
If only we had some tanks today.
The captain looked at his watch intensly now, and put his whistle to his lips. Jacob watched for a few seconds and then, as the last few "arty" rounds blasted into the German earthworks, the whistle blew. The sergeants jumped up out of the trench with their men, loaded down with their packs and anxiety, fumbling clumsily along after them. Jacob was the last one up in his platoon, and when he reached the top he immediately flopped down into a shallow dip in the ground.
From first-hand experience Jacob knew that the Germans would count the troops coming out of the trench, and then would open up their machine guns, sometimes killing everyone in the platoon. Last time Jacob had only been saved because he tripped coming up the ladder and fell back down into the trench. By the time he had landed his comrades were already falling backwards into the trench with 7.92mm bullets punching right through their bodies. This time was not much different. The Jerry machine guns opened up and at least ten of his platoonmates fell dead or wounded. The others fell too, but dropped out of fear and common sense to the ground, unscathed.
Jacob's sergeant, ten yards ahead, was shot through the forehead.
Then, the second artillery barrage opened up, and firing from the German lines ceased as the Huns dropped back into their trenches and took cover. This time, though, some mortars were included in the barrage, and soon the rounds were dropping into the trenches and on machine gun positions.
The lieutenant waved everybody forward and yelled "CHARGE!" The other men saw the wisdom of using this covering fire and ran forward, Jacob among them. They ran for about 150 yards and dropped into an old trench line. "Fix your bayonets! Arm your grenades! And pray very hard!" the lieutenant ordered.
Jacob pulled his bayonet from it's sheath and fixed it to his rifle's barrel.
The artillery was letting up now, as the sun broke above the horizon and struck the men's eyes' full force. Jacob could dimly see through the clouds of smoke flashes from the German artillery now, returning fire at the trenches Jacob had just vacated, where no doubt a second wave of men was forming.
"Let's push on through while the smoke is hanging here, perhaps the won't see us," one sergeant suggested to the platoon leader. The lieutenant nodded and waved them forward again. Jacob stood quickly and ran as fast as he could toward the German lines, his comrades struggling to keep up. Apparently the Germans they were facing had heard of the run-while-the-smoke-is-here trick before, though, and fired blindly in the hopes of killing the advancing Brits before they made it to the trenches. Jacob's foot fell into a slight depression and he tripped into the mud. It was a fortunate thing, too, because a Hun machine gun opened fire just twenty feet in fromt of him. Jacob's lieutenant landed in the mud right next to him. "You alright, sir?" Jacob shouted. The lieutenant nodded at him. Jacob rolled a few feet away from the lieutenant and pulled a grenade off his webbing. The lieutenant shouted back to someone, "Stay down! There's a Hun machine gun, we'll clear it!"
Jacob took that as his cue, pulled the pin off his grenade, flipped the 'spoon' off, and lobbed it at the gun. An explosion, small, really, in comparison to the 'arty' that had been shrieking in before, signaled the end of a Jerry gun and crew.
"All right, bring up the Lewis!" the lieutenant yelled. Jacob grasped his rifle and lay on his stomach, waiting for the second wave of troops to get there before they assaulted the German trenches. The light machine gun, known universally as the 'Lewis gun', arrived with it's crew. They plopped into the mud and flipped the small bipod down from the barrel. The loader pulled a 47-round disc-shaped magazine from his pack and gave it to the gunner, who pulled a spent magazine off and loaded the new one.
A German soldier poked his head up out of his trench about fifty feet away for a quick look, and Jacob sighted in and quickly jerked the trigger. The bullet barely missed the Hun, who apparently didn't notice his close brush with death. Jacob worked the bolt of his Enfield and sighted in again, this time squeezing the trigger gently. The German, who couldn't have enjoyed more than twenty years of life, was hit through his cheekbone, just below the left eye.
The machine-gunner slapped Jacob heartily on the back, smiling as if he had just gotten a week's vacation from war.
"Good show, mate, jolly good show!" the gunner extended his hand. "Martin Gobells. My friends call me 'Turkey'. We get back, let me buy you a beer?" he asked.
"Save the beer for when we win," Jacob replied. "Right now I just need socks. And coffee." Jacob shook Turkey's hand and said, "Jacob MacArthur."
"Socks it is then, Jake my boy!" Jerking his thumb at the loader, Turkey said, "My mate here is Al Collins." A shell shrieking overhead made Turkey flinch and duck his head down. "You know, it's the shells I-"
He was cut off by a loud cry in German. "Grenate! Werfen euer stielhandgrante!"
"Get DOWN! Incoming grenades!" yelled Jacob, as the odd-shaped Stielhandgrenate, or "stick grenades" came flying through the air out of the German trenches. Pure luck saved Jacob yet again, as a 'potato masher' landed right next to him - and failed to explode. Jacob rolled away from the 'dud' grenade. He had heard stories of grenades, mortar rounds, and artillery shells going off after some unlucky mate assumed they were safe. Turkey grabbed the grenade and threw it back into the trenches, and several Germans jumped out of the trench just fifteen yards away, screaming in terror. Turkey sighted briefly and calmy pressed the trigger of his Lewis, and the .303 caliber bullets almost cut the Huns in half, going down in spurts of blood. The dud grenade apparently really was a dud, and it never exploded.
As Jacob looked around he saw a large group of German helmets coming quickly up the maze of trenches, heading for the tiny foothold of ground the Tommys had captured.
Collins yelled, "Krauts!" and fired his Enfield, knocking one of the helmeted figures to the ground. Even before the first German hit the ground, Turkey opened fire. The effect of helmets being shot through and knocked off as the machine-gun swept back and forth would have been almost comical, had it not meant that under and in those helmets human beings were being slaughtered. Jacob pulled his last grenade off of his belt, yanked the pin out, and threw it towards the screaming, dying Germans. Overfilled with adrenaline, however, Jacob's grenade overshot the trench and exploded harmlessly a few yards beyond it.
The firing suddenly quieted down, with no German troops visible. Jacob was amazed by the sudden hush that came over the battlefield. Now, for the first time since the charge, Jacob allowed the realization to sink in. I am still allive.
This eerie quiet lasted only a moment before he heard a distant buzzing, like a bee. The sound was so much like a bee that Jacob actually started looking around for one. After a minute or two the sound got louder, and didn't sound like a bee anymore. A young soldier holding his hand over an arm wound was the first to solve the enigma. Lying on his back, he could see the incoming aeroplanes. With bombs slung under the feusalage. "Flying Cabbage!" he yelled. The regiment's humourous name for German aircraft. The buzzing sound was now replaced by an all-out roar as the Jerries drew closer.
As Turkey and Collins struggled to get their Lewis reloaded, Jacob and another rifleman, Clay Smith, ran to the German trenches and dropped down into them. Jacob's feet landed on the corpse of a 'boche' machine-gunner, probably killed by the artillery bombardment. Blood and destroyed organs came out of the ripped open carcass, but Jacob didn't have time to be sickened. Smith took over the dead man's Maxim machine-gun, still ready with a belt of ammo.
The other Tommys jumped into or behind whatever cover they could find - trenches, foxholes, fallen trees, shellholes - as the bombs fell earthward. Jacob ducked down into the trench as the bombs went off, the concussions shaking him so bad that it gave him a headache.
Smith bravely stayed up, firing at the Hun planes. Jacob, ashamed of his fear, got back up and assisted by loading the next belt of 250 7.92mm Parabellum bullets. He could see the bright orange tracers zipping up at and through the German planes. Suddenly there was a bright orange flash and a belch of thick black smoke, and the German plane nosed over into the ground with a mighty CRASH. It immediately caught on fire, and the pilot, amazingly unharmed, got out and started running. But the Tommys didn't like taking punishment without giving it, and the running pilot made a nice target. The boche took less than ten steps before he was shot through a dozen times and fell dead.
The other 'Flying Cabbages' broke off, chased by the bullets and curses of the Tommys. Clay Smith grinned real big and gave Jacob the thumbs-up sign, just before a German bullet punched through his chest. He fell with a shocked expression, mouth and eyes open wide.
Jacob dropped down in the trench next to him. "Medic! Medic!" Jacob yelled as several Brits returned fire.
Jacob ripped open his friend's shirt, exposing the wound and pulling Clay's hands away from it. Immediately a geyser of dark blood shot up from the hole, some of the blood real bubbly. And, in between the gunshots that seemed to be getting closer, Jacob could hear a whistling sound. Clay kept trying to look at the wound, choking on his own blood. Jacob kept forcing Clay's head back, trying to keep the airways open. "C'mon, buddy, you're gonna have to work with me here. Keep your head back. Medic!" Jacob gently pushed Clay's head back up and covered the wound with his hands as best he could.
Turkey and Collins dropped down into the trench next to him, a burst of machine-gun fire zipping by just a foot above their heads. Turkey, about to congratulate Collins and himself for their dashing entrance, stopped short when he saw Clay.
"Don't just stand there, help me!" Jacob screamed. Clay tried to put his head up again and Jacob forced it down again. Clay still could not speak, only choke on blood and gasp for breath and choke some more.
Turkey and Collins got down on their knees, placing their hands over Jacob's, trying to seal the wound.
The stayed like that for a few more minutes that seemed to last forever. Clay stopped trying to look at the wound. The blood stopped seeping through their fingers. Clay just lay there, his eyes staring at the early morning sky, and not seeing any of it.
And a German voice broke the silence, accompanied by the click of a Luger being cocked.
"Anhalten! Sich eregeben auf der Stelle, englisch Lump." An unconditional and impolite demand for surrender.
None of the Tommys moved. Something small, hard, and definetely not the German's finger pressed firmly against Jacob's back. "Auf der Stelle!" the German demanded.
Instead, Jacob whirled around, knocking the German's rifle away from his back as he did so. Jacob grabbed the German's Mauser by the barrel and stock, pushing it into the German's throat. The German, eyes bulging and face reddening from the effort, pushed back as hard as he could. Jacob could see three other Krauts over the man's shoulder.
Jacob broke the stalemate by slamming his knee into the Kraut's groin. The man's effort toward holding the Mauser at bay from his throat collapsed, and Jacob slammed the rifle up under his jaw, lifting him a foot off the ground and sending him flying towards his comrades.
The German officer with the Luger jumped back to keep from being bowled over by his soldier. As he started to raise his pistol again at the Tommys, Jacob fired the Mauser from the hip and sent the 8.2mm bullet through the man's throat.
Blood poured from the wound as the Heinie clutched his throat, trying to scream but only gurgling pitifully as he dropped to the ground. Jacob dropped the rifle and pulled his Webley from its holster with lightning speed. The third German tried to bring his own rifle up but the bayonet caught on a tree root protruding from the wall of the trench.
Jacob plowed into the man, knocking him over and landing on him. Jacob fired the Webley into the last man, the .45 caliber round punching through the German's left shoulder. As Jacob took aim to finish him off, the Hun he was lying on pushed him off with his legs, knocking the Webley away with his fist. The German jumped to his feet and grabbed his bayoneted rifle, kicking Jacob down.
The Kraut pressed the tip of his bayonet into Jacob's chest, not quite puncturing the skin because Jacob grabbed the barrel and tried to shove it away. But the Kraut was in a better position, using his weight to his advantage.
The German grinned evilly and rasped, "Jezt, wo man sturben dumm!" Now you die slow.
But apparently Turkey had other plans, grabbing his Lewis. "Far 'nough, mate," he said, brandishing the deadly weapon. "Stand down now."
The Kraut's eyes opened wide. Staring down the barrel of a Lewis gun has that effect on people. The Kraut pulled his bayonet back from Jacob. Then he dropped the rifle and raised his hands.
Jacob caught a movement out of the corner of his eye. Snapping his eyes towards it he saw the other wounded Kraut grabbing the dead officer's Luger. "Turkey!" Jacob yelled a warning as the first, 'surrendered' Kraut jumped to the side of the trench, now putting Turkey in his comrade's line of fire. But Turkey was faster than the wounded German, releasing a quick burst of jacketed lead into the Kraut.
Jacob was so close that the blood spattered his face, helmet, and jacket. A little gob of bloody meat landed in his lap as the man's internal organs popped out the many holes that the powerful .303 caliber bullets made. The last surviving Kraut once again 'surrendered', screaming repeatedly "Ich sich egreben! Ich sich egreben! Ich sich egre-" but he was cut short as Collins blew his brains out the other side of his head.
Turkey stared in suprise at the normally sweet-tempered Collins as he calmly worked the bolt of his rifle.
Jacob was not suprised. He knew that the first casualty of war was innocence. He was only sorry that he wasn't the one working the bolt of the rifle.

1530 hours, May 19, 1917

Jacob sipped the sweet, foamy brown liquid, relishing the taste of it as he slowly swallowed and passed it on to his stomach. Turkey sat accross the table from him, leaning over his own mug. He glared at Jacob.
"You said save the beer 'til we win." Turkey accused.
Jacob wiped his mouth on his sleeve. "This is root beer." he protested. "And I really did get new socks."
He lifted his feet from under the table and pulled his boot off. "See?"
Turkey plugged his nose and said, "Whoa, mate, you didn't have to do THAT! I believe you already."
Jacob scowled. "My feet don't smell worse than any other front-liner. You don't exactly have roses in your boots yourself."
Turkey grinned. "Quite true, quite true. I nearly gagged taking off my own boots."
Jacob knew there wasn't any escaping the subject, but even so he sighed heavily as he brought it up. "I'm writing a letter to Clay's family. I don't really know what to say."
Turkey nodded. "Neither do I."
"He was nominated for a Victoria's Cross, you know. For bagging the Hun plane." Jacob pushed away his root beer. "And then he was killed, by a cowardly Heinie who couldn't even surrender right."
"That was him? The one Collins shot - he killed Smith?" Turkey asked in suprise.
"Sure. Did you see the yellow army patch? He was an 'elite' Prussian Gaurd." Jacob shook his head. "That is a bit of good news. If that coward was elite, we'll win the war in a month or two."
Turkey raised his mug. "Next stop, Berlin."
Jacob raised his own drink. "Berlin."