As a teenager, my brother once dragged me along with him to visit the Imperial War Museum in London. While he meandered awe struck among weapon displays, I found myself reading accounts, many of which evoked a strong emotional response, of soldiers in World War One who had been awarded medals of honour for outstanding acts of bravery. Many years later, I remembered my reactions, so although what follows is a work of fiction, with names, characters, places and incidents either a product of my imagination or used fictitiously, the following story was inspired by an actual event.
The Huns are too distant to distinguish individual features, but close enough to see rows of steel helmets and glinting bayonets.
Eddie pauses, rubbing his numb fingers. Something catches his eye. He squints. ‘Look! There! Isn’t that Housby? ’ he mutters.
Balancing Jameson’s weight, ignoring the smell of festering wounds, Eddie locks eyes with the Boche soldier positioned directly in front of him, not twenty feet away.
But Jameson is heavy. Like the deer Da had made him carry back on his shoulders. A fully grown doe is a heavy load for a thirteen year old boy and twice he fell. Da stood, his expression hard, and watched without helping, each time Eddy laboured to rise. It took an hour to walk the mile to their cottage. Afterwards Da made him skin and butcher the animal while he smoked his pipe and watched. But Eddie’s mind is fixed. No-one is going to butcher Jameson.
Image from Shutterstock by Natalia Maroz.
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