Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Charlie Trenchboot

[Stories about Charlie Trenchboot were popular among American soldiers during the Second Great War. They originated with the French soldiers, however, whom the Americans joined to support the Soviet insurgency of 1940, and it may have not originated with them either. Below is the first known story (translated from the Italian) of Charlie Trenchboot (Charles D'armée), from 1905, during what was already known as the Great War.]

The second-worst three words that a soldier can hear are "up the line." The base camp isn't so bad really. There are the injured men moaning about, but not on the line like dying dogs, and here, there are nurses. Every Galician spinster aunt hovers around the camp, and those wrikled, stingy faces couldn't be lovelier. There are shells booming in the distance--they'd hit us if they could--but not so loudly or so deadly as on the front. Most of us lounge, eat local fare (pork and boiled cabbage), and furiously scribble at our memoirs, convinced that each of them will be of immeasurable value to untold future generations. It keeps most of us content, but we quake when the next round of filthy, wounded, and frightened men come straggling in to camp, and the rest of us waited for the three words to come. The only person that couldn't get there soon enough was Charlie Trenchboot.

The first-worst three words that a soldier can hear hardly need to be said. They are "over the top." Charlie would be the first one to jump the wire, and smart men would sometimes run behind him, because Charlie knew where the bullets weren't and the land mines got out of the way of his feet. But other he had to get pretty close to teh flying metal, and only Charlie was fast and smart enough to run between 'em, which wasn't good for the men behind. Those times, Charlie had to pick up and carry a man to keep him safe. One time, Charlie caught a flying shell and threw it right back into trench it came from. We made a lot of progress that day, but couldn't move forward much past that part of the Austrian line, because the rest of us were so exhausted. Somehow the base camp moved up a mile behind us that day, and, I guess the Ausies' must have done the same in the other direction. Nothing changed at all during that spring, but somehow we moved through Galicia, crossed the tops of the Carpathian mountains, and went straight on into the heart of Rumania by the fall, and the line looked exactly the same every single day.

It's hard for us foot-soldiers to guess when it turned, but Charlie was there the second it did. We'd been friends with the Emperor for years, good enough to "help" him govern two-thirds of his own country since the fighting started. Some said it was inevitable, but the truth is we didn't really know what was going on up there, and we were all surprised when we turned south, but then everything is a surprise to a fighting man. The day the orders came through, here comes this man, eight feet tall if he was an inch, and with shoulders as broad as a rifle, and a smile as big as the sun. Before we knew it, we were digging in and going over the top going south, right into a new country.

One time...

MAP OF SPRING 1905 MOVES (click)

Austria: Army Budapest SUPPORT Army Rumania
Austria: Army Bulgaria -> Serbia
Austria: Fleet Constantinople -> Black Sea
Austria: Army Rumania SUPPORT Italian Army Galicia -> Ukraine (*void, dislodged*)

France: Army Gascony HOLD
France: Fleet Gulf of Lyon CONVOY Army Spain -> Piedmont
France: Army London -> Yorkshire
France: Fleet Marseilles SUPPORT Army Spain -> Piedmont
France: Fleet Mid-Atlantic Ocean -> North Africa
France: Army Spain -> Piedmont via convoy
France: Fleet Western Mediterranean -> Tunis (*bounce*)

Germany: Army Belgium -> Picardy
Germany: Army Berlin -> Prussia
Germany: Fleet Denmark -> Baltic Sea
Germany: Fleet Helgoland Bight -> North Sea
Germany: Army Kiel -> Ruhr
Germany: Army Moscow HOLD
Germany: Army Munich -> Silesia
Germany: Fleet Sweden -> Norway
Germany: Army Warsaw SUPPORT Army Moscow

Italy: Fleet Aegean Sea -> Greece
Italy: Army Ankara -> Constantinople
Italy: Fleet Eastern Mediterranean -> Aegean Sea
Italy: Army Galicia SUPPORT Russian Army Sevastopol -> Rumania
Italy: Fleet Ionian Sea HOLD
Italy: Army Rome -> Marseilles via convoy (*no convoy*)
Italy: Fleet Tyrrhenian Sea -> Tunis (*bounce*)
Italy: Army Venice -> Tuscany

Russia: Fleet Livonia -> Gulf of Bothnia
Russia: Army Sevastopol -> Rumania
Russia: Army St Petersburg HOLD
Russia: Army Ukraine SUPPORT Army Sevastopol -> Rumania


Austria: Army Rumania -> Bulgaria (only option)

FALL 1905 MAP (click)

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