WWI

Afredo Campio, age 11
WWI

I am listening to the radio. Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia because Austria-Hungary thinks the Serbian government has killed their heir with assassins waiting along the way. But since Serbia and Russia are friends, Russia declares war on Austria-Hungary. But Germany is friends with Austria-Hungary, so Germany declares war on Russia. Then I turn off the radio. I grab some toast and run to school.

I am listening to the radio. Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia because Austria-Hungary thinks the Serbian government has killed their heir with assassins waiting along the way. But since Serbia and Russia are friends, Russia declares war on Austria-Hungary. But Germany is friends with Austria-Hungary, so Germany declares war on Russia. Then I turn off the radio. I grab some toast and run to school. 

My name is George and I am twenty one years old. I’m in university and love history. I don’t stay there. I go and come home every day. I can’t imagine how hard it is to be a soldier. The hardships you have to grow through. 

All of a sudden, the ground starts to rumble. The school emergency bells ring through the halls. We are all ordered to evacuate the building. Then, in the daylight, I see planes dropping round, cylindrical things from a door under the plane. I see a sign on it. The Swastika. I see a plane drop a big object, but when it hits the ground, it makes an explosion. They are bombs. That means this is a bombing raid! 

I am led to a bombing raid shelter where we are ordered to stay until the raid ends. I know this is Germany because Germany invaded Belgium and the British were friends with Belgium. So Britain sent troops to Belgium to help them. I want to fight for my country, so I enlist in the army. I am fit for the army, perfect size, strength, and with no training, I go to the battle field. I am assigned with a task of clearing a path for other infantry units. We march for hours until we see a German pill box with a machine gun loaded with a sixty caliber bullet belt. We saw movement in the pill box and knew we needed to destroy it before they noticed us. We are armed with Lee Enfield rifles and have twenty clips of ammo per soldier. Then I see a German officer reach for his binoculars and gaze out of the window. His binoculars hit on our sight. He screams, “Open fire!”

Then there are bullets zipping by in all directions. We quickly get down to the ground and fire back. I see two German soldiers get out of the pill box, both with Mausers. They start to fire in the field we are in. We outnumber them two to one and we pick them off one by one. Since we have C-4 explosives, we just need to plant one next to the door and then blow it off. Then we will capture a few officers, ask for information on their moving troops, and then make them POWs. Because that pill box will be dangerous to other reinforcements coming in by ground. 

One of our officers tells me and another soldier we should make a run for it and plant the bomb. So I grab a C-4 from the bundle I am carrying and we run for our lives. We make it unscathed and plant it. Then we see ten figures screaming and tell them to get out of there with weapons down and hands up. We take them prisoners, then go back into the pill box. We see four limp bodies. Dead. Two died of concussion, the others of the explosion. Then we see another pill box. And since it isn’t on duty, we think it will be easy to capture it. But when we plant the C-4, it doesn’t do a thing! We realize the door is made of steel, and the rest of the pill box is concrete reinforced with steel. We will need something stronger than C-4’s, so we run back to our command post, a few yards away, and tell the general that he didn’t give us what we needed and that he is the one who is going to deal with it. 

We think they are going to kick us out of the army but they say that it is alright and that we will get some tanks tomorrow morning. 

The next morning, we go back to the pill box and figure it is now active. Almost as if on cue, German machine guns open up. I see a soldier get up and throw a grenade. He takes out five Germans! Then I feel a pain in the leg. I have been shot. Everything is becoming blurry. I collapse. Everything goes black. 

I wake up in a tent with a familiar face hovering over me. I can’t believe it. I have survived! I ask his name and he says, “Oliver.” And soon after that we become close friends. 

I ask if we destroyed the pill box and Oliver says yes. He says that the tank was a Mark One and it had gotten stuck while descending. But it had still fired into the window where the machine gun was, killing its occupants instantly. But he says we had also lost eight men in the battle. 

In a few days, I have recovered completely. They have used pincers to take out the bullet and put sulfur powder on the wound. I go back to my group and they tell me we are going to dig trenches because of a suspected counterattack. We spend all day and night digging with shovels and bayonets. Luckily, I haven’t lost my shovel, so it is a bit easier. But for some of the men, they have lost both shovels and bayonets! They have really bad bruises and blisters on their hands. But they keep on going. We make about thirty feet in length, not bad for a day’s work.

 In two days, we are finished with the trench. The next day, our scout reports seeing  three tanks and about five hundred Germans heading to our trench. But it isn’t a problem for us. We have already planted mines on the road they were on. Suddenly, we hear a loud explosion. We all grin. They have fallen into our trap. We also have portable bazookas, and if the tanks miraculously survive, we will finish it off. But the Germans on foot will survive because the mines only activate when under heavy pressure. And for that, we have light and heavy machine guns to easily take out the Germans. Only one tank survives the minefield, and it has a large chunk of armor dragging behind it, and the top of the tank is on fire. But it keeps moving forward. 

We all grab a bazooka and some yell, “Fire!”

We all watch as the tank is demolished. We all cheer, but too early. We see a soldier fall, then another. We all crouch down and see the Germans advancing. We see a shell soaring through the air and land with a boom. A green smoke erupts from it. Poisonous gas. I yell, “Put on your gas masks!” 

We wait until the gas clears, but now the Germans are really close to taking over the trench. I run to a machine gun and yell to Oliver to come help me feed the machine gun. Once I squeeze the trigger and slice it across the field, Germans start going down. We have five machine guns and we begin mowing through them. I see a German officer raise a white flag. They’ve surrendered. 

We motion the medics to let them get their wounded. Then I see the medic talking through a telephone a mile a minute! I know he is describing our position. Then he pulls out a pistol. I grab the machine gun and put ten bullets in him. Even though it is a crime to kill a medic, he is giving away our position and he was going to kill us. 

We send a scout to see if German reinforcements are coming. He comes running back and says that the Germans are positioning artillery guns and they are now loading them with poisonous gas. We get into the tiny rooms that were dug into the side of the trench. Those spaces are meant for sleeping and protection from bombardment. We put on our gas masks. As soon as we get into those tiny spaces, we hear the screams of artillery shells flying through the air. They burst in green smoke. The gas masks are uncomfortable, but useful in these situations. Then we hear rumbling behind us. We peek just for a few seconds. Tanks have come to our aid! But the Germans know that already. Then we see anti-tank shells. They land all around our tanks. The Germans soon bring their own tanks. They outnumber our tanks, four against seven. But our tanks are not alone. We still have our bazookas. 

I aim it directly at the bottom of the enemy tank and fire. The tank is then being gobbled up in flames. Soon after, the rest of the group gets out and grabs their bazookas. But then we see Germans come out of dense foilage, with bayonets fixed. I drop my bazooka and grab a machine gun. The Germans are desperately fighting. I call for someone to help me, and Oliver comes, even though we need to help our tanks. We are running low on ammo, but we keep firing at the Germans. 

We take them all out in about five minutes! 

The field is littered with bodies. But the tanks keep fighting. Four of us aim our bazookas at one tank because it will take more than one person to take out one tank! We fire at almost the same time and the tank explodes. Its gun shatters and the left armor is hanging by a thread. We hear ear-piercing screams coming from inside the tank. The Germans in there are being cooked alive. I shudder at the thought of me being the German in that tank. I shake that thought away and fire at another tank. 

One of our tanks is hit and its wheels are on fire. I rescue the soldiers in the tank. The other three tanks fire shell after shell at their enemy. All together, we take out five enemy tanks, but the other four retreat. We all get out of the trench and then Germans run at us from all directions. We take out all of the tanks, so our tanks leave. We are surrounded. Some men stay in the trench to tend to the wounded. But the Germans didn’t know that. They ordered us to drop our weapons and put our hands up. They tell us to line up. I know they are going to execute us. But suddenly a German soldier falls, then another, then another. The Germans don’t know where they are being attacked from. They take out the Germans quickly. I go back to the trench and go to sleep. The next day, I learn that I have been in the war for about two years. I can’t believe it! It feels like only weeks have passed.

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