The trenches in the Northern Regions were very different than the ones at White Beach. They were much deeper, having been continuously improved since the beginning of the war. Most of the artillery guns were buried in deep concrete bunkers. There was also a much more rigid structure for advancement to the front. An Infantry Regiment would come in to the rear line, where the 202nd was now. It would spend a week there, going on any raids necessary, and resting in the relative safety. The next week would be in the fall-back line, with the job of repairing the wire. Finally, the third week would be in the front line trenches. Their job was too watch, hope, and pray. This line rarely got any sleep, due to the near constant machine gun, rifle, and artillery fire.
These trenches felt much safer to Evans. It didn’t hurt that the front line was a few hundred meters forward. He snaked his way past the signs, looking for “Smithies Hole,” the trench where Second Platoon was. He wondered who Smithie was. And why this was their hole? Was it innuendo? Probably. Would Newey make a joke about it? Definitely.
Once Evans found it, he walked into the Lieutenant’s dugout and saluted, “Sir! Message from the Captain!”
“Um… Yes. Very well Lance Corporal… What is it?”
“A Raid Sir. Captain Kestel will be leading, and she wants to use Sergeant Chilcott’s team.”
“Thanks for telling me Lance Corporal. Um… You are excused?”
“Very well Sir,” Evans did an about face and left the dugout. He walked to one of the soldiers on watch and tapped them on the shoulder.
Kempe turned around, “Evans, need something?”
“Yeah, do you know where Chilly is?”
She pointed at one of the dugouts, “I think he’s in their. See you around.”
“See ya,” Evans walked into the dugout Kempe had pointed at. It was much less nice than the officers’ dugouts. Less deep too. He picked up a candle by the entrance and walked in, casting the flickering light on the various cots until he found Sergeant Chilcott.
Sergeant Chilcott was attempting to sleep.
“Chilly” Evans whispered.
The Sergeant let out a thin, slow, “Fuuuuuuuuckkkkkkk” and opened his eyes, “What is it Evans?”
“Captain sent me. She wants your team on a raid tomorrow. You should meet with her after stand to for details.”
“Dammit,” Chilcott rolled over, “I hate doing things.”
“See you later Chilly,” Evans walked to the entrance and put the candle back in place. He left the dugout and walked down towards the exit. There was a rustle in one of the wall scrapes, a smaller dugout for two or three soldiers covered by a curtain. Tiscornia rolled out, stood up and brushed off his uniform. Giuliano slowly scooted out a few seconds later and stood up.
A flare went up and Evans waved, “Hey Dom and Corp.” He paused a moment, “Um… Corp, your, ah, fly is undone.”
She blushed, “Dom, broke one of the buttons off.”
Tiscornia interrupted, “Yes, while we were sitting and doing platonic things with each other.”
Laughing, Evans walked past them, “I’ve gotta go stare at the front lines. Corp, don’t let Dom get you platonically pregnant while I’m gone.”
He then wandered his way to the front line. It was somewhat quiet tonight, much less artillery than usual. Flares only were coming up every few minutes. Evans quickly patted his pockets to check if his periscope and notepad were there. They were.
127th Infantry Headquarters was somewhat quiet. Evans walked into the deep headquarters dugout and saluted the first officer he saw, “Sir, I’m here from the 202nd to check out the bunker before tomorrows raid.”
The Captain nodded, “You’ll be Lady Demetria’s assistant then?”
“Well, I guess I will show you to the position lad,” The Captain put his helmet and greatcoat then walked towards the entrance.
“Thank you Captain.”
“Sorry, not Captain. I was promoted about a week ago have not had time to put on my new tags,” The Major gestured to the insignia on his helmet, “At least I still have the Captain target.”
The Major then led Evans through the trenches to a listening sap. The two crouched low and walked to the middle of No-Man’s Land. A few shells dropped nearby, and a green flare lingered a few hundred meters down the line. Once they got to the end of the sap, the major pointed to a small bulge in the ground about sixty meters away. He whispered into Evans’ ear, “It’s well hidden in there. It has a machine gun facing the opposite end, facing down two companies worth of trench. The last attempt got hit by a machine gun,” the major turned and pointed towards the Vledscan line, “There. So you will have to watch that.” He gestured to a few other locations, “As far as we can tell, there are more machine guns there.”
Evans frantically drew out the positions in his notebook as best he could in the low light.
The Major shrugged, “That’s about it.” He reached into his pocket and fired a red flare. A burst of rifle and machine gun fire opened up about a hundred meters down the line. The Major smirked at Evans, “That’s for the party coming up. They will be extending the sap a little closer to the nest. We will try and do something to draw the fire a little tomorrow night. But, you can use it a little to get a better look.”
“Yes sir. Thank you sir,” Evans stood up a little to get a better look at the bunker. It was sunk somewhat low in the dirt. He could see a few scars where artillery gunners had fired a failed direct hit. He could make out a little sap that made it’s way to what Evans presumed was the entrance to the bunker. He noted it on his drawing.
A flare went up nearby. Before he had a chance to duck, Evans noticed about four members of the previous party, torn to shreds by a machine gun. He ducked down to avoid joining them.
The Major then waved him back and the two walked back down the sap to the main trench. They passed six soldiers with picks and shovels. They worked their way back to the dugout. The Major took off his greatcoat and helmet, “Righto, stop by before you kick off tomorrow night.”