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Chapter 18

It was a good thing Nick and his friends had undergone the tough physical training back in England, because without it, they wouldn’t have made it to the top of the jagged rocks. They were worn out and sweating profusely, but they’d done it. All they wanted to do was rest, but that wasn’t going to happen anytime soon, not when the enemy could be lurking in the shadows and waiting for an easy opportunity to attack.

“I would give anything to be able to just lie down and sleep…even for just a couple of hours” Alex groaned. The men were exhausted and running on adrenaline and fear alone.

“Me too. I’d give my left leg for a comfy bed!” Nick exclaimed.

“Once we’re away from this danger, we’ll find somewhere to shelter for the night” Kevin advised, looking at each and every one of the men under his command. He was just as tired, but he couldn’t let it get to him. He had to remain focused on the job, which was to clear the area of Germans and get the hell away from this damn beach.

The men moved cautiously, eyes like hawks as they scanned the area, but after approximately an hour they realised the enemy had either been killed or retreated. They were safe for now.

They were now away from the utter devastation of Omaha Beach and making their way inland on an old dirt road, figuring it better to stay off the beaten track. The sun was setting on what had been the worst day of their lives, and the men could only hope that tomorrow would bring them more luck; that was if tomorrow ever came.

Physically and mentally drained, after a couple of hours of walking, they decided to stop for the night. The air had a slight chill to it, even though it was summer. Maybe it had nothing to do with the weather, the chill they all seemed to feel, and maybe it was the situation they were in. They came across a deserted farmhouse, the occupants long gone by the state of the place. It had been ransacked by previous passers by; all that had been left was furniture that was too big to carry, like the beds in the bedrooms and a worn and tired looking sofa. For the men of the 16th and 17th division though, it was sufficient for their needs. They were too tired to care; all they wanted was a place to get their heads down, and to be sheltered from German gunfire. They slept as many as they could fit into a bed, and surprisingly managed to sleep with ease, fatigue had taken over and their worries were forgotten for the night.

They awoke early the next morning, to the sound of the birds singing in the trees and the sun shining brightly through the grubby windows. They’d survived their first night in France, but this was only the beginning.

A couple of the man went outside to try and scrounge up something to eat. Although the farm was no longer operational, they hoped to at least find something edible. For once, luck was with them. They found a chicken coop, which although was falling apart and unsecured, miraculously still housed a couple of chickens. For a brief moment Howie wondered how they were still there, but he didn’t question it for long and reached in, grabbing the couple of chickens and the few eggs. If they could get a fire started on the kitchen stove, then they would be eating a good breakfast.

Nick saw this quiet time as the perfect opportunity to pull out his notebook and write a few words to Elena. He wondered how she was doing back in England. Was she thinking of him? Was her town safe from the bombs which seemed to be hitting towns all over the United Kingdom? He remembered how much he’d hated England when he’d first arrived, with its cold weather and strange accents, but now he would give anything to be back there with Elena.

He pulled out his pen and paper and sat around the back of the farmhouse, the morning sun shining down on him.

Dearest Elena,

It’s been a couple of weeks since we parted, but I think of you constantly and hope you’re well and have not forgotten me. I wish I’d had time to ask for a picture of you before I left, but your smiling face is etched in my memory and will remain with me forever.

I can’t begin to describe how awful it is here…

Nick stopped for a moment to think about what he was writing. Did he really want her to know the hell he was suffering over here? She would only worry even more and he didn’t want that.

He carried on writing.

…so I won’t go into detail except to say I wish I was anywhere but here; preferably with you, up on our hill. How I miss those times…

He scribbled a few more words, a sort of poem of how he was feeling.

Empty spaces fill me up with holes

Distant faces with no place left to go

Without you within me I can’t find no rest

Where I’m going is anybody’s guess

I’m not sure how often I’ll be able to write to you, or whether you’ll get my letters. But please know that I’ll be coming back to you just as soon as I can.

All my love,



Nick folded the letter and placed it back in his book, ready for when he’d get the opportunity to send it.

“Come on then men, let’s get to it” said Kevin authoratively once they‘d finished eating. He had his orders to get to the meeting point and wanted to get there as soon as possible.

With the aide of maps and compass, they navigated their way through open countryside and along dirt roads. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, they heard gunfire, it could’ve been a single shooter or maybe two, they didn’t know.

“I’m hit” called out Private James Lewis holding his right shoulder to stem the blood flow.

“Get down” shouted out Kevin, but it was too late for another member of the group - Robert Armstrong, another young man who looked too young to fight - as he collapsed to the ground, a single bullet to the head.

“Fuck” muttered Nick as he witnessed a colleague’s death before his eyes. He did as Kevin commanded though and dropped down into the dirt, praying that he’d get out of there alive and unharmed.

“Cover me” said Kevin. “I’m going after him, it’s just one guy” and with that, Kevin manoeuvred his way away from the rest of the men, towards the direction of the gunfire. The sniper was disguised in the trees, but Kevin knew where he was and when he got close enough for a shot, he pulled the trigger, fatally wounding the solider. He fell to the ground, dropping his weapon. Kevin ran over to him, kicked him to make sure he really was dead and then went through his belongings for anything which would be of use to his team. He took his gun, his ammunition and the little food and water supply he had left.

They buried the body of their dead colleague in a shallow grave and said a few words in prayer. James’s shoulder was bandaged up; luckily the bullet had passed through. Then they carried on walking, their eyes and ears open for the slightest noise out of the ordinary.

Chapter End Notes:

Thanks for reading, hope you're enjoying!  Sorry for any details which aren't right, I'm not very accurate about war detail stuff and kind of make it up as I go :)