The stories featured in this section are fictionalized accounts of battles that the 13th Battalion participates in on a regular basis.
The rain pelted down in sheets across the open field. Splatter off
the parapet rain down my face as the drops pattered on against my tin hat.
The rubberized rain cape kept most of the rain off, but enough had run down
my neck over the last two hours to soak me to the bone. My boots had long
ago become waterlogged in the muddy bottom of the trenches. I hope my
spare socks were dry in the dugout. As the rain increased, it became more
and more difficult to monitor the front lines. I could barely see the wire
through the gloom. Our lines had gone quiet as my comrades attempted to
find ways to stay dry in the cold wet December evening. I hoped the
Germans too had decided it was better to stay in the trenches and warm
dugouts tonight. The smell of a fire wafted up across my nose. Someone
was brewing tea. I hope I get a cup. Just to warm insides and my hands on
the mug. My kilt drug heavily on my hips. The rain soaked pleats dripping
down on my calves. A dull thud sounded far across no-mans-land. A flash
and then a flare shot up into the night. I ducked my head beneath the sand
bagged berm of the fire bay and waited for the light to disappear. The
rear of the trench wall was illuminated in an eerie yellow glow and I watch
some of the men scurry for cover like rats hiding from the light of a
torch. In a moment the light is gone and I quickly raise my head again to
scan the ground before our lines. Either the Germans had heard something
or they had decided to make sure we were still awake in our lines.
A hand grabbed my leg and I looked down to see Pte. Hunt sitting on
the fire bay step. Soon it would be his turn on the parapet and I would be
able to sleep where he was sitting. He passed a cup of warm tea to me.
Gratefully, I put both hands around the cup to soak up any available warmth
and raised the mug to my lips. The tea was lukewarm, but as soon as it
hit my belly, I felt rejuvenated. I passed the cup back down and Pte.
Hunt tucked himself back into his rain cape, lowered his chin to his chest
and went back to sleep.
The rain continued on and tiny rivers began to flow through small gaps
in the sand bags. The bottom of the fire trenches was ankle deep. Knee
deep in some places. The smell of wet wool and burlap from the sandbags
filled my nose. My glasses fogged over repeatedly as I fought a losing
battle to keep the lenses clear. I sang softly to myself and tried to
think about how warm it would be when I was rotated back to the dugout and
out of the rain.
I heard footsteps behind me and felt a presence to my side. Corporal
Cuesta joined me on the fire step. He silently looked out into the night
for a moment, placed a hand on my shoulder, and stepped back into the
darkness as he continued his rounds. It was comforting to know that there
were others out walking the trench line. I could not even see the fire
bays to either side through the rain.
As my eyes drifted to the right side of our lines, I heard the twang
of wire being cut to my left. I swung my head around to seek out the
sound. A grey/black shaped moved quickly across the ground to my left next
to the far left fire bay. A grenade exploded in our trench line and a
shrill whistle pierced the night. Shots rang out and shouts filled the
air. I kicked Hunt with my boot and jerked my rifle around to the left.
Reaching down, I grabbed two Mills bombs from the shelf in the side of the
trench I had built earlier in the day. A second grenade exploded and the
flash silhouetted 5 or 6 German soldiers moving in our wire. I snapped a
shot off and heard a man scream. More rifles fired and the shouts grew
louder. A group of five Canadians raced past our fire bay towards the
assaulting Germans. Corporal Cuesta came up as Pte. Hunt came to his feet
next to me. "Stay tight," he whispered, "there may be more attacks on this
side of the line." With that, he raced off into the darkness. Rifles
flashed liked giant fireflies. A sandbag near my hand tore open as a
bullet smacked into it. Tonight would not be quiet after all.
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