Suddenly, a scream of mechanical chaos flooded the air it was an air raid siren, I jumped out of my chair and ran up the rickety stairs towards the bedroom and my parents were at the radio; Mum frantically trying to find the right frequency with little success. The war had been uneventful until now. Some people had called it the phoney war but now it appears to be the real thing. My parents twisted sharply with a look of fear as their eyes shot to the wide open door, “James, do you hear that noise? It sounds like an aeroplane” said Mum. Suddenly the house shook as if the ground was moving from under it, bombs were falling. The radio fell from the table as the voice which came from it extinguished with the impact. The noise went on and on until the buzzing noise faded away, the war was now official and I would be made to fight in it.
My mother couldn’t bear the thought of me being killed and suggested I tried to get a job such as a police man so I could stay with my parents but I was inexperienced and had no choice but to fight. I thought a lot about running away, away from the war, away from my parents, to a place where I wouldn’t be forced to kill men who had never done me any wrong. I had to do what was expected of me and so I joined the army, the last time I saw my parents was on the bus to the training barracks. I remember the look in my parent’s eyes of bloodshot tears as they cried with fear for me. Any happiness of mine died that day, along with my will to live. I tried to keep in contact with my family through letters but the army censored them and they didn’t always reach them anyway. After a few months I decided that the letters from their only child would do more harm then good since I only talked of false victories and bearable time which they certainly were not, and anyway I felt I only had a short time to live.
One night which had the bitterest winds it was time to go over the top through no mans land. The thunder was like gun shots and the rain turned the earth to swampy mud. Cold and soaked to the bone I could no longer bear the waiting and urged the commanding officer to give the order. Shells started to fall from the darkness of the night and barely missed my trench. Many good men had died from those shells or worse. A man who used to move the guns around the base that I did my training with had become shell-shocked and now lay in bed moaning like a zombie.
The deafening sound of the gunfire was eased by the voice of the General. It’s time to go over the top, we grabbed our guns and attached our bayonets. The shelling stopped for a second and we started to run for it. It was nearly impossible to run as the ground swallowed our feet which sank in past the ankles. Men started to fall as the enemy shot us down one by one. I jumped for cover and landed in the now sickeningly red mud. Only a few were left and we were close to the enemy trench.
The remaining few of us stood in a crouching position and ran to the other side firing for all we were worth. We got to the trench only to be welcomed by round after round of bullets. My knee felt a sharp sting, then an agonising coldness. I attempted to take one last step but as I put weight on my knee the limb surrendered to the bullet. I felt the tendons snap then twist as I fell to the ground. The thought of the shot which would put me out of my misery filled me with fear, I waited to die but they didn’t shoot at me. Why? I looked up and they were all dead, both sides were dead or dying, brains, kidneys, intestines and a sea of blood filled the trench. A bayonet lay on its side with half a lung hanging from the blade which pierced the middle of its tattered windpipe.
Then without warning, a shadow dawned over me, a man alive and well. I knew he was German because he shouted frantically into the radio on his back which only appeared as a faint blur from the amount of blood I had lost. He must be calling for back up to secure the trench I thought as I lay face down breathing blood filled air. If that happened I’d be dead for sure, I couldn’t let that happen. He turned his back and dropped to a dead soldier, presumably because he knew him, that was the last mistake he ever made. I pulled a handgun from the disgusting cocktail of mud and human remains which now surrounded my body. With all my strength I pointed the loaded firearm at the soldiers back; this man was not evil but had been turned into a savage like me.
I pulled back the hammer on the gun and as it clicked he turned to face his death. Hoping the gun didn’t blow up in my hand from the amount of muck it had been dipped in, I pulled the trigger. The bullet pierced a hole in his neck and broke through his spine as it blew out the other side of his body. He gave a bird like scream as the blood flowed out of his adams apple and into his cupped hands; he died in seconds as he drowned in his own blood. At that moment, I saw a group of figures at the other side of the trench, it was the German back up. Knowing that I was going to die I rolled into the middle of the trench and got my grenade, I saw them getting closer and now was the time so I pulled the pin with my bloody hands and placed the grenade in my mouth. As I closed my eyes the last thing I heard was the German guns as they fire into my face.