Tales of Valour
Posted: Mon Apr 09, 2018 8:14 pm
A place to post some short stories or vignettes, from any nation.
Re: Tales of Valour
Posted: Mon Apr 09, 2018 8:14 pm
Bill Vereker, six feet tall and blonde, thirty nine and a Captain in the Yeomanry, rode ahead to the forward position in his Land Rover. Behind him, in dusty green trucks, were towed the six Long Toms of His Battery of the Lucknow Artillery.
The first people he came upon were stragglers, heading to the rear, desperation on their faces. You should go backwards, said their Captain – the Communists have us whipped.
If that is so, I have not heard it, said Bill Vereker. His column passed, and those stragglers whispered to one another: who are they? They are Vereker's Battery. Vereker's Battery? Vereker's Battery of the Lucknow Artillery!
Then they came upon a dressing station, and the cries of the wounded were very desperate. A doctor came out from a tent, clothed in blood, and said: you should go backwards, as we have no room left for men here.
If that is so, then we shall not call upon you, said Bill Vereker. His column passed, and those wounded whispered to one another: who are they? They are Vereker's Battery. Vereker's Battery? Vereker's Battery of the Lucknow Artillery!
Finally, Bill Vereker's Battery arrived at their position, one small grassy knoll, with the wide and fast and green Pahang river ahead of it. There was but one man there, a spotter, with a wide turban, who said to Bill Vereker – Captain, I was waiting for you to guide you here, but now I must go to the rear.
If that is so, said Bill Vereker, then when you get to the rear, tell them that Captain Vereker's Battery of the Lucknow Artillery is at the front. Then he gave his orders, yelling as his lungs would – trucks, to the slope! Shells, forwards! Guns, to the positions! Battery … ! To arms!
And there stood Bill Vereker on a box of shells, binoculars to his thin hazel eyes, and looking out to the river. His aide de camp came to him and looked too, and said Sir! The Communists are many like flies! They have already crossed the river! They mean to whip us!
Bill Vereker lowered his binoculars, and said: And I mean to whip them! And he did call his orders. Battery, depress four! Range, eight thousand! Load phosphorous... And there was the clunk of the breeches closing. Battery … Fire! The ground thundered, and shook, and swept up dust.
The Communists began to fire back with their own guns. First they missed, and then they became closer, and closer. Vereker's aide de camp said Sir, the Communists have us bracketed. You should get down.
But Bill Vereker kept on through his binoculars. The shells rattled around his battery, and two guns were lost. Then they were down to four.
Bill Vereker lowered his binoculars, and said: Their guns are not our object. We must move their infantry! And he did call his orders. Battery, depress six! Range, eight thousand! Load high explosive... And there was the clunk of the breeches closing. Battery … Fire! The ground thundered, and shook, and swept up dust.
Back at Headquarters, were the interchanges never stopped ringing, the General had observed his map. Why, he said, the enemy is about to break through there. Why are my men running?
The Communists have them whipped, his aide said. He had a long face that had the pale colour of defeat.
And what's this flag here, said the General. There's but one unit in their way. Who are they?
That, said his aide. That must be Vereker's Battery...
Vereker's Battery... queried the General. Yes, the aide said. Vereker's Battery of the Lucknow Artillery!
Then rally my Brigade, said the General. Rally them and relieve this Vereker. And tell him that help is on the way.
At the front, Bill Vereker was still at his binoculars. The Communists fired back, and he had lost one more gun. Now there were three guns of his Battery of the Lucknow Artillery...
Bill Vereker lowered his binoculars, and said: We must keep firing until we are killed or they are running! And he did call his orders. Battery, depress eight! Range, eight thousand! Load high explosive... And there was the clunk of the breeches closing. Battery … Fire! The ground thundered, and shook, and swept up dust.
His aide was with him then. Captain Vereker, he cried, Headquarters says they are coming to help us. You may tell the Headquarters, said Bill Vereker, that this Battery shall stay here until it is relieved or it is silenced. And then there was an almighty explosion, and Bill Vereker was thrown to the ground. His aide was soon upon him.
Sir, are you hit?
I am killed, said Bill Vereker. But this Battery of the Lucknow Artillery must hold!
This Battery will hold, said his aide, and then stood and cried, to the one remaining gun:
Load high explosive. Depress . . . Battery … Fire!
Battery … Fire! Battery … Fire! Battery … Fire!
Battery … Fire! Battery … Fire!
Battery … Fire!
It was quiet, that little grassy knoll, when the swarthy Malayan troops climbed upon it, waving the flags of the Law, and found just one man sitting upon a box. Where are the Communists, the relief troops asked. The Communists are whipped, he replied. Where is the Captain of the Battery, they asked. He is killed, he replied. Who were these men, they asked.
We were Vereker's Battery, the one survivor said.
Vereker's Battery, the relief questioned.
Yes, Vereker's Battery, he said. Vereker's Battery of the Lucknow Artillery . . .
Re: Tales of Valour
Posted: Tue Apr 10, 2018 9:42 am
Happy new year! The communists have rung in 2002 with their usual firework display and are busy shelling our district again. They must have gotten a new battery up on the hill the other week, because lately the amount of incoming has been simply withering - although nothing dampens our spirits, we certainly don't go outside as much anymore. My friend and squad-mate Khoomir (a good, honest Congregationalist) has told me that some of the heathens on the red side don't even celebrate new year on January first, instead it comes for them some time in March. Did you ever hear of such a thing?
Someone in the company got hold of a crate of communist beer, which is actually not undrinkable (but of course, is nothing compared to a good Uxmouth Stout), and a bottle each was the limit of our festivities. There's one other Commonwealth chap in my group, a big burly North Point rugby player by the name of Andy, and we spent a few hours reminiscing about life back east. It was nice, talking about things like stouts and pies and roast beef to someone who actually understands the appeal. Not that there's anything wrong with the local lads I'm fighting with, but they are quite alien to a sheltered Haversham boy like me!
I feel like I should apologise again for the way in which I left you the other month. I am a little ashamed of the way I slipped off into the night and I feel terrible about how this would have made you feel. But we both know very well the lengths to which you would go to keep me safe at home!
I am becoming a man, and a man has a duty to fight for what he believes is right. These good, honest, simple people have been under the boot of red tyranny and oppression for far too long, and now they have a chance to seize their freedom and make their own way in this world. I would be a coward and a hypocrite if I did not do my part for the cause.
Under the guns and sandbags and razor wire this country really is a beautiful one. It never goes below fifteen, even now in the dead of winter, and the sea is a glorious bright blue. When this horrible war finally comes to an end Freiburg will be a fantastic place for a young, adventurous man to put down roots and make something of himself. That is what I intend to do with my volunteers allowance, as I am told that even a pound of silver should go a long ways here. We can build a house on the hills over the city, and you can finally escape the awful home island winter and come here too!
You have always called me a dreamer, but this is something I can feel in my bones. In three months I will be eligible for leave, and I will come home for a few weeks to spend Lena's birthday, and we can talk more about the future.
This is getting a little longer than I wanted, so I'll sign off here. I'll be at the front from next week so shan't be able to send any emails, but will try and send something as soon as I'm rotated back to garrison. Don't worry too much about me, God and history are on my side!
All my love,
Thomas Fraser served in the Allied Associated Front "4th Haversham" brigade from 2001 to 2002. He was injured in action in the final battle for Freiburg, after which communist forces retreated from the city. He recovered in Tairendia and currently resides in Freiburg. He is joint president of the Sovereign Rugby Federation.