Great War – Newville, April 20-21 2012

April 23, 2012 - 1 Comment

by Jim Barnes

Legion Russe!

Legion Russe!

Ваня! А вот и они! Alexei, the number two man on the Maxim gun yells to his gunner, who is reloading belts. The Huns are once again swarming across no-man’s land. Soon Uncle Maxim is belching fire and death towards the dreaded sausage-eaters. Mortar rounds shriek off into the gathering dusk. Somewhere to the right, a Frenchman screams curses as he drives his boot knife into a trench raider. The Great War Association is having its annual Spring event and everyone is having a fine time.

The weather this year was quite mild, as well as dry,  until Saturday evening. As a result, I did not use my shinel, or overcoat until late Saturday evening.  Friday was dry and warm and we did not have the mg set up, so I was assigned to provide support for the mortar crew. The Russian Legion mortar crew is renowned among the Central Powers types for dead-on accuracy, and as such, are a prime target of trench raiders. A large force of Germans broke through into the French lines and almost made it to the Russian sector, but tenacious fighting and judicious use of grenades rendered them harmless before they got to the mortar pit.

The Maxim arrived early Saturday morning and we got it placed and operating quickly. After a fine breakfast of Uncle Daddy’s own Kasha, flavored with тушанка, (Yum!) we set about harvesting Germans. There seemed to be a general shortage of them this year, oddly enough, so attacks were rare in our sector through much of Saturday. Things picked up late in the day and there were several strong German assaults which were thwarted with much slaughter.

During one of these attacks, some of our troops captured a German medic. He must have been shell-shocked, because the poor thing keep mumbling in the curious Boche tounge  and appeared to believe that yours truly, Alexei Yakovich Baranov, was a lost relative or something. Vanya took pity and gave him a smoke and he seemed happy. His American guard then led him off, no doubt to some quiet military  hospital where he could recuperate.

At dusk on Saturday, the Allies launched a massive attack on the German’s left flank. The Hun, softened up by a gas attack earlier, could not resist the powerful assault. Vanya got his blood up and asked to join in the attack, while Alexei manned the Maxim. We fear Vanya was killed in the brutal fighting in the enemy’s trenches. It was stirring to see our brave troops and allies carrying the line though swirling clouds of smoke.

Later, the survivors met at the Imperial mess, where Uncle Daddy and Slava treated us all to a delicious borsch. With stomachs full, we toasted our victory with vodka and some rum, evidently donated by some Allied source, and another spring event was in the books.

Comments (1)

Matthew Gillespie

October 29th, 2012 at 10:42 pm    

Really nice pics Jim.

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