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Offline Stan'

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When Major Low Invaded France
« on: November 21, 2009, 10:04:43 AM »
So this is a story that I began to write on a very boring Saturday afternoon, 21 November 2009.  Really, I'm surprised I wrote as much as I did.  I have a bad habit of actually giving up on something before I've finished the first paragraph.  There's probably no real point in actually reading this, because I doubt it'll make much sense -- bearing in mind I actually just kept writing and writing without really giving it a second read-through.  Secondly, not much happens in the first chapter.  It's an introduction to it all.  The plot:

"It's 1934.  World War 1 never happened.  Instead, Europe begun to rumble with civil wars.  Germany and France are both divided in to numerous small territories reminiscant of the old medieval days.  The United Kingdom has decided to take advantage of the chaos, and invaded northern France through Normandie and Bretagne.  But when the British Army is forced to fall back, Major Henry Low and his men decide to stay behind.  Can these soldiers really take on the entire French Army?"

Contents
1. "Normandie"
2. "Headquarters"
« Last Edit: November 21, 2009, 04:45:56 PM by Stan' »

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"Normandie"
« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2009, 10:06:47 AM »
     His name is Major Henry Low, a respected officer in charge of 90 men.  Each man under his command would gladly die if he asked them to, would glady throw themselves at a firing machine gun if it meant they could advance a little bit that day.  Henry Low did not hesitate in placing his men in dangerous situations, and the statistics proved this.  Out of all the companies in the 42nd British Regiment, "The Low Guards" had the highest turnover of reinforcements.  After each battle, the overall strength would suffer, sometimes going as low as 40% or 50%.  But that did not seem to lower morale one bit.  In fact, it somehow raised it every so slightly.  Other men in the army thought of these soldiers as mad.  The Low Guards thought they were just doing their job.
     Major Henry Low was a mystery.  Without a doubt, he was a talented officer.  But with such manpower loss, why did anyone think so highly of him?  Maybe it was because he participated in the fighting as well, and no matter how many men died around him, he was still alive to tell the stories of what happened.  A mere 22% of troops were part of his original command two years ago.  Due to the frequency of replacements, Major Low's company had begun to recruit many French troops from Normandie as well, which made up around a third of the total strength.
     The date is 5 May 1934.  Major Low has been requested to meet with Lieutenant Colonel Field, the commander in charge of 1st Battalion, 42nd British Regiment.  The headquarters is over the hill to the north, and as Henry's luck went, the motor vehicle was needing repaired today.  That meant that Henry had to travel by his least favourite method of transport -- a horse.  Currently, the Low Guards occupied a southern region of Normandie, a province in the north of France.  In 1932, the country of France became a warzone, with each province declaring war on each other.  There was plenty of bloodshed, and the British were quick to react.  In the confusion, they co-ordinated a successful invasion of Normandie and Bretagne.  Henry Low's company was part of the 42nd British Regiment's west force, landing at Cherbourg without much threat.  It was only with their expansion southward did the Low Guards finally come under attack.  The bloody battle of Saint-Lo lasted for three days, however Henry Low does not remember much of that as he was knocked unconscious by a neaby artillery shell.  He awoke afterwards to the news they had won the skirmish.
     Climbing up on top of the horse, Henry grunted slightly as he rolled his shoulders backwards.  Summer was approaching, his favourite time of the year.  Just unfortunate he was going to spend it shooting and killing, rather than lying back and resting.  Accompanying him on his journey was a young French-English soldier named Éric LaFontaine.  The lad followed Henry everywhere, and was a reliable soldier -- also one of the few to have remained with him since the start of the formation of Low's Guards.  He had a wife back home in England, she too was a French immigrant that had sought refuge from any sort of violence.  There were times when Henry had considered telling Éric to go back home, because he did not want to return to Madame LaFontaine with bad news that was all his fault.  Yet the Frenchman refused, and insisted on going everywhere with Henry in hopes that one day the pair could return to France permanently, and raise a family.  Henry had that same dream some day.
     Private Grayson completed the trio, a relatively new recruit, fresh out of training.  He had seen action in Bayeux with the 44th British Regiment, before transferring here along with Private Young and Corporal Bird.
     "What's wrong with the truck, Éric?"
     "They say the engine is broken, sir.  It won't be fixed until tonight at the earliest.  Waiting for spare parts, I think.  Until then, we'll have to ride on the horses, I'm afraid."
     Henry sighed, and shook his head.  The issue of supply shortage was an ever-growing concern of the English Major, with reliablity being the other one.  It wasn't the first time that truck had broken down, it was almost useless.  Spent more time sitting idle and waiting to be repaired than actually doing its job.  Henry had put in a request to receive another one, but he was still waiting for a reply.  He would ask Field of the verdict when they met.
     "At least it isn't raining,"  Commented Henry as he looked to the sky.  "Last week's downpour meant the roads were like quicksand.  The horses couldn't move the guns to the other side of the town.  Just as well we weren't attacked, or we'd be in alot of trouble.  Still.  It could be worse.  At least we're a few miles behind the front lines."  A little bit of optimism didn't hurt, Henry always hated to think negatively about things, because thinking negatively didn't bring solutions, only made the problem seem a hell of a lot worse.
     Éric nodded in agreement.  "That's very true.  So why does Lieutenant Colonel Field wish to speak with you?"
     "I do not know, Éric.  Perhaps they would like us to travel south and reinforce 2nd Battalion.  I heard they are losing ground every day."  The horses began to move, and with one hand clutching the rein, he ran a hand through his short, reddish-brown hair.
     "What about Third Battalion?"
     "What about them?"  Asked Henry.
     "I thought the Third Battalion was on their way to help them as we speak."
     "I've heard those rumours too, Éric.  But we both know that Lieutenant Colonel Allen is too slow in issuing orders.  Even though Second Battalion would like to think they are receiving more troops, I'm sure Allen has yet to even get his men moving.  They probably won't be organised until the end of the week, and that's too long for Second Battalion to wait."
     After that brief discussion, the road to headquarters was quiet.  Private Grayson did not utter a single word the entire trip, while Éric commented on the wreckage of a farm house which had been on the receiving end of an artillery gun.  He wondered if the family had survived, if they had been under its roof at the time of its collapse, but Henry told him he did not know, and Éric should use his own imagination on the outcome of it all.  They'd only been on the road for fifteen minutes, and already Henry was dying for a coffee.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2014, 12:42:04 AM by Lord Palatine »

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"Headquarters"
« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2009, 04:44:50 PM »
     "Thank you for coming, Major.  Take a seat."
     Henry nodded, and sat down on the chair indicated by Lieutenant Colonel Field, shuffling around to make himself comfortable.  It was an old, wooden thing where the fabric seemed to be of poor quality.  Pieces of it were stained with dirt, perhaps blood.  Henry didn't know, but the small house in which Field had occupied obviously wasn't owned by royalty.  In fact, he was surprised that out of all the locations in this area, he had picked this building to hide in while the others fought in the war.  "So what did you want to tell me, sir?"
     Field stood behind his desk -- which was little more than a dining table with a few maps and documents scattered across it -- and scratched the bridge of his nose.  He was a tall man, wore a pair of glasses that always seemed to irritate the space between his eyes.  There was a small cut above his lip of unknown origin, Henry kept meaning to ask about it but there was never the time nor the moment to properly slip it in to the conversation.  "I think we've bitten off more than we can chew, Major.  Army Command has been on the radio, seems they're refusing to send any more troops our way.  And the way we're losing men every day -- we just can't afford to accept that.  A plan of action has already been drawn to retreat back to the island."
     Henry frowned, almost wondering whether he should ask the man to repeat as if he didn't hear him right.  Retreat?  Completely abandon the country?  He had to be mistaken, they had already advanced so far and now they were going to pack their bags and go home?
     "I know, I know."  Accepted Field.  "Our forces are to abandon our posts within the next 72 hours.  Command has asked that the only occupation area should be Cherbourg, in case we decide to mount another invasion later on in the year."  His superior offered Henry some tea, but the man refused.  Field never had a supply of coffee, which annoyed the Major somewhat.  Éric and Grayson stood outside while the officers discussed everything.  "You'll be retreating with the rest of the battalion later tonight.  Tell your lads what's happening.  I'm sure they'll be glad to go home."
     Henry thought about his choice of words, 'glad to go home'.  It was true, at least Éric would finally be returning to his French wife, however their dream of having a large, spacious farm in Normandie was all but crushed for now at least.  All Henry Low could do was nod his head and accept what was told.  Field may think he was returning back to the coast with the rest of the Battalion, but he had other plans.  He had no intention of leaving the mainland just yet.  Walking out of the make-shift office without much else said, Henry was quick to jump back on his horse and look down at the brown hair on the animal.  "The Army's leaving."
     "Leaving?"  Questioned Éric.
     "Yeah.  They're going back home.  Back to England.  You can join them if you want."
     The Frenchman was confused, chasing after Henry who had begun to return down the road to their camp.  "What do you mean, I can join them if I want to?  Henry, please don't tell me you're planning on staying here.  I knew you were mad, sir.  But I didn't think you were that mad."
     Henry smirked.  "Mad?  I think you've got me confused with someone else.  I was asked to come here and try to invade France.  If the rest of them have given up, then they can go back home with their tails between their legs.  But me?  No, I'm staying here.  If it means I have to start knocking on doors and asking for people to help me, then I guess that's what I'm going to have to do."  He thought about what his friend Éric said to him.  Mad?  Was that really how his men thought of him?  Sure, he may have went that extra mile.  If they were asked to capture a town, Major Henry Low would issue the order to not only capture the indicated town, but to advance ahead and try to find another town to capture as well.  Perhaps that was why he lost too many men, telling them to do things that didn't need doing.  Probably.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2014, 12:42:31 AM by Lord Palatine »

 

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