November 22nd – Eager Advancements
Over-the-top Charlie was something of a legend. Not always in a good way. He was talked about, often, behind his back, in the trenches, whispered about if he was around, a bedtime story in a land where bedtime stories brought little comfort.
Over-the-top Charlie, had, as his name suggested, been over the top on more than one occasion. Once was very often enough for most of the men, for many of them once over the top would be all they would ever experience. One push, and that was their lot. Over-the-top Charlie had been over the top nine times.
He had become something of a charm. A lunatic, clearly, unhinged, but going over the top next to Over-the-top Charlie was as close as you could get to having a shield. Bullets just seemed to go around him, the air exploding around him as he made his unhurried way across to the other side. Nine times, Over-the-top Charlie had been over the top, and nine times he had returned, or dug in and stayed put, ready for the next one. Nine forays into enemy territory, and each time he was left without a scratch.
Nobody took much notice for the first couple: after all, this was what they were all here to do, this was what was expected of them. Why, exactly, they were doing this, remained, and was to remain, a mystery. There had to be something significant, and important, about this sodden patch of northern France, but for the lives of them (some of which were spectacularly short) none of them could figure out why.
It was the third time that made his name. Seventy men went over the top on a charge ordered by a lunatic Captain with the King in his heart, a pistol in his hand, and nothing in his head. Six reached the enemy trench. Three were walking wounded, one died of his wounds shortly after arrival. Over-the-top Charlie, unscathed, lobbed a beltful of grenades into the trench and claimed it for the King. Which the King, obviously, gratefully received, and exchanged it for the first in a series of medals that were headed Over-the-top Charlie’s way.
So now, on the eve of yet another push, towards yet more guns over yet more mud and wire, there were twenty or more men fighting for position on both sides of Over-the-top Charlie. After all, he was someone worth sticking to.
Inspired by a prompt from here