The three sergeants stood side by side in the trench, in the dim shade of the privates, the Ammo Humpers, a few corporals, that rushed artillery rounds across a field to the nearby trenches, two privates to a bomb, they also used donkey’s when possible, they were part of a forty-four man platoon.
The First Sergeant was a tall ugly heavy man, a Briton. And then there was the second sergeant, he was the Staff Sergeant of the Ammo Humpers platoon. And then there was the Buck Sergeant, he was a Frenchman, his rank was equal to an American Buck Sergeant. It would seem the Staff Sergeant was the thinker, and the Buck Sergeant was the action man, the fighter, and the First Sergeant, was the overseer, quiet, but very observant. They seemed to have an unlimited supply of ammunition rounds for their rifles, and shells for their artillery.
Orders came down for the Battalion, with its four companies 7.62×39 ammo , of 126-men each, lacking forty-men in the four companies-that is, twelve per platoon, for the five-hundred men, minus four Ammo Humpers, to crash over the trench, and take on the Germans, straight forward, under the barbwire, in the mud, and onto their destiny. Those three years of waiting was two-years too many, some general wanted a star, and this is how he was going to get it. Take the trenches in front of you, or make a good show of it so your superiors take note, the ones that were nine hundred feet away-take those trenches, and the ones you’ve been looking at, for countless hours and days. Today was the day. Out of the bunkers, the mud brick, and wooden framed bunkers, where mostly privates lived, they came out, and the three sergeants, ordered them to load their rifles and fix bayonets.
Then the order came down, take a battery of the Ammo Humpers out of the fight, have them supply the artillery, and the three companies that will clear a blazing path for the 126-men, one company will crash over the trenches, stay low so the other 400-men can shoot over your heads to keep the Germans busy, so the 126-men can storm the trenches one thousand yards away, or perhaps the ones nine-hundred feet away, some German trenches as close as five-hundred feet away, that manned by 1500-Germans. The General wanted that star bad because it was a suicide mission. For over three years they couldn’t take those trenches, what made the general think today was the day, so all the privates and the few sergeants, and a half dozen corporals gossiped.
Everything was quiet, very quiet, just before the attack, the German’s could feel something was in the makings, and they had enjoyed a stalemate, and intended to keep it that way, a bit worried when the Americans came, because they had almost won the game, now the game had changed, and the offensive was to take place in a matter of hours, the Buck Sergeant was to lead the troops like a pack of wild bees, storm troopers, and the Staff Sergeant was to keep the Ammo Humpers busy filling the riffles for the 400-shooting over the 126-heads that were attacking, and the First Sergeant he was the overseer, as usual, and the General, he was safe behind, deep entrenched in his bunker, as most Generals are.
Corporal Justin C. Abernathy was in the attacking group, Langdon’s grandfather, Langdon Abernathy, and the roar of the guns started, and they whizzed by there target, which was over the German trenches.
There was perhaps a thousand shells that burst into the atmosphere, aimed at the German trenches, five thousand rounds of bullets, whizzed through the air, towards the German trenches, the atmosphere was on fire, suffocating smoke, no shame from either side, people digging-in, and dodging flying scraps of metal all about, it was a sleepless night.
The Ammo Humpers were racing back and froth, from the ammo dump to the front line, the trenches, and over the top went the 126-men, like phantoms, ghosts, and Corporal Abernathy, he stopped after shooting several rounds, turned over on his back, Corporal Abernathy, watched and listened to the blazing bullets whizzed by him, he was taking a rest, an odd kind of rest; lit a cigarette, figuring if it was his last so be it, but it felt good to have one, she he had one. Then he looked bout, if he stood up he’d be either shot by his comrades, or the Germans, he was in an open field, but he needed to turn about to go forward and shoot some more bullets, at those trenches that no Germans were jumping over like crazy fools like he and his comrades did. He rolled over on his side, slightly turned upward, just an inch or two, no more, and a bullet hit the side of his temple, just grazed it, and his glasses flew off: he wasn’t blind, but he couldn’t aim correctly, he was shooting half blindly now. And then retreat was sounded, and he wiggled his way back to his trenches, he and nobody else, they all had been killed, as expedited, all dead, every one, 125-men, a slaughter, all but him.