First Company was in the trench, ready for the “defense.” Magazines were loaded with blanks, shovels tucked into belts, and, at the insistence of Chief Jackson, Wooden bayonets fixed. Evans could see Second and Third Company waiting for the order. In addition to the blanks and wooden bayonets, each soldier had a practice grenade, and every third soldier had a haversack to carry three more of them.
The practice grenade was new, When Evans was in basic training, the practice grenades were really just potatoes that an officer had requisitioned, and most soldiers had just saved them to eat. The practice grenades all had five second timers that, when depleted, would use a spring to launch a streamer, to signify that the nearest people were now dead. Politics probably also played into this though, the Naval Infantry were the cool new thing and the landings were supposed to be the decisive action of the war.
What the attackers and defenders didn’t know, was that Polly and Evans had stayed up most of the night into the stand-to wiring the entire field with explosives. They wouldn’t cause much damage, just make some craters and throw some dirt into the air. It should shock everyone though, and help the soldiers get used to the sound of explosions.
Major Kestel looked at her watch. One minute to go. She nodded to Polly, who was standing at the blasting machine. Polly raised the plunger and pushed it down again. There were a few silent seconds before all the explosions went off. The field between the trench and the attacking troops was filled with newly created holes. The attacking officers started to blow into their whistles. The somewhat stunned soldiers started to advance. They walked, in a single line, trying to keep spacing. The soldiers in the trench started firing on their Lieutenenat’s orders. Evans looked at the Major, who was furiously taking down notes. Polly was laughing. Warrant Officer Wright walked over to Evans, “What’s going on?”
“It looks like the troops are trying to fight like they have muskets,” Evans pointed to the attackers, “They are moving way too slow, are way too close together, and are attacking in a line.” He then pointed to the trench, “And over there, we have the soldiers depending on Lieutenant Bridges to shoot. What if he gets killed? Will Chief… Ah…” Evans snapped his fingers, “Lorenzo take over? And when Lorenzo gets hit? And what if someone sees a higher priority target? Do they wait to shoot them and hope the officer doesn’t take cover? The soldiers are also standing up to high above the parapet. I mean, in this case, the attackers would definitely lose in this case, a machine gun could easily sweep the entire line. Then everyone will be dead. The attackers should be dashing from hole to hole and keeping in cover, trying to make sure that they are seen for the shortest amount of time possible. Of course, in a real attack they should be under the cover of artillery fire.”
“Ah,” the Warrant Officer shrugged, “So our basic training is a bit shit?”
“Yep,” Evans looked back at the attack, “But hopefully we can fix this up and not all get killed in the first five minutes.”