The stories that will be featured in this section are fictionalized accounts of battles that the 13th Battalion participates in on a regular basis.


Jack-Rabbit Trails, December 1996


The rumble of the earth was the first sign the artillery barrage had begun.

The walls of the trench shook. Dirt cascaded down onto my boots.

Suddenly, a mountain of dirt rose into the air. Gravel, dirt, and grass

rained down upon us in the fire bay. Dirt ran off my tin hat down the back

of my tunic. Only my hand over the muzzle kept my rifle barrel from being

plugged. As soon as the barrage stopped, I lifted my head to peer out over

the ground between our lines and the German trenches. The wire was still

intact. Craters smoldered from the recent explosions. No sign of life

could be seen. The entire front had gone quiet. Then, breaking the

silence, the lieutenants whistle pierced the air. A cry erupted from the

trench line as hundreds of men scrambled up the ladders and steps and onto

the crater filled landscaping of no-mans land. The sudden openness of the

terrain seemed almost foreign after having spent so many days below ground.

Many men stopped to look around as if they were only now seeing the sky for

the first time. I started forward through our own barbed wire towards the

German positions. The first rifle shots sounded as the Germans returned to

their forward lines. A Maxim spoke and men began to scream behind me. I

looked to my right and to my left for an officer to guide upon. It was

then that I realized I was in front of the entire sector. I was leading

this charge. A bullet struck my small pack on my left hip, spinning me

about. I fell into a shell hole as dirt kicked up around my head. I felt

that every German gun was upon me now. Suddenly, I felt my right side

moisten through my tunic and kilt. Had I been hit? Was I going to die? I

looked down and saw, to my chagrin, that my canteen had opened and had

spilt it's contents. I looked back and saw that the other men of my unit

and men of the British army had now caught up with me. I reached down into

my tunic, pulled forth my flask, and took a long pull. The schnapps warmed

my insides. I closed the flask, put it safely back into my tunic pocket,

and prepared to advance again. Checking to see if my canteen was securely

corked, I checked over my remaining equipment and stood up to move forward.

More men had reached my position and were moving on. Canadian bodies

littered the ground before me. Private Hunt lay dead near the German wire.

The others I could not identify. I knew that too many would be men I

considered friends. As the distance between myself and the German lines

shortened, I broke into a jog. My gear clattered and clanked as I ran.

The brim of my helmet slipped down over my eyes as I stumbled over the

shell torn ground. I could now clearly see helmeted German heads in the

trenches before me. Each rifle shot seemed directed straight at me. The

earth shook as grenades exploded nearby. Men screamed and fell as we

struggled onward. It was now obvious that the German wire had also

withstood the artillery barrage. There were no clear paths into their

lines. Men lay in piled heaps near the entrances to the German wire.

Machine guns chattered and groups of men fell lifeless to the ground.

Suddenly, my left knee buckled beneath me. I fell uncontrollably to my

right into a shell hole. My lungs exploded as the air was driven from them

by the force of my fall. Balancing my rifle with my right hand over the

edge of the shell crater, I strained to see the German trench line.

Without looking down, I reached down with my left hand to check my knee.

Bringing my hand back to my face, I saw my fingers and palm covered in

bright red blood. I rolled over onto my back, inched further down into the

crater, and lifted the edge of my kilt to see the wound. Both knees were

covered in dirt encrusted blood. My left knee had been shattered. My

right, shot through. I stared for a long while in disbelief as the blood

ran out over my fingers. The world around me faded and it was a while

before I noticed the silence that had fallen over the field. After what

seemed an eternity, a shadow loomed over me from above. I turned, looked

up, and squinted to see who had found me. The outline of a Stalhelm

silhouetted against the sun. A thickly accented German voice told me not

to move. He called for a medic as he and another soldier helped me to my

feet. The war, for me, was over.


by Jeff Bieler

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