“Hello,” Evans talked into the weird ball of metal netting and was a bit shocked to hear his voice amplified, “I’m Corporal James Evans, MoE Fourth Class. I’ve been temporarily attached to this battalion to work with your Petty Officers as an instructor and Major Kestel’s orderly. We’ll stay with you guys until Newacre decides we can go home. So… I guess to start off, a little history about me. I’ve been in the Army over two years now. Sort of. There’s a bit of discrepancy in the paperwork because I was officially declared dead for six months of that time. And I’ve fought at White Beach, Urbs, and the Northern Gate. Um… Not good at speeches. I’m also from Halton if anyone’s heard of it.
“I have the honor of introducing your new commanding officer. I’m… I am very sure you all know of her. I have been her orderly off and on for the past year and served under her for most of my career as a rifleman. So… Well…” Evans pulled the scroll out from his back pocket and unrolled it onto the podium, “I am most honored to present The Most Beautiful, Marriageable Lady Demetria Kestel, Heiress to the Duchy of Medway, Major attached to the 1st Naval Infantry Regiment, Medal of Ethslin Third Class, who sheathed her blade inside Baron Semyon of Kalach at Urbs.”
Evans rolled up the scroll, turned right, and walked to a seat in the front row. Major Kestel walked into the room and stepped up to the podium. The gathered Battalion stood to attention, “You may be seated.” She waited a moment for everyone to sit down, “As the Corporal said, I am Major Demetria Kestel. I have been assigned to lead your Battalion by an interservice program. The purpose of the program is to provide the Naval Infantry with experienced officers. Why do you need experienced officers? Well, in about a month, the Naval Infantry will be taking part of the largest amphibious operation ever devised. We will be landing in the south of Vledsco. The operation will have two waves. We will be in the first wave, in charge of securing a beachhead for the larger second wave, coming a few hours later. Our battalion is expected to push forward, scale the cliffs, and set up a trench line at either half a kilometer from the beach, or at the first heavy resistance.
“Our training over the next three weeks will consist of intense training in trench digging, hand to hand fighting, climbing, moving under fire, and all the other skills you will need to have a chance of surviving. Every evening there will be a lecture in here that will apply to the next days training. Most of these lectures are by Myself or Corporal Evans, but a few are by experienced Officers and Sergeants that are willing to give up part of their leave to train you. After these three weeks, we will take part in two practice landings before finally boarding our ships to earn our place in eternity.
“But tonight, we are going to have a shorter meeting. I will just be explaining tomorrow’s training. Roll Call will be at 530, full battle kit. Your platoon leaders will pass out rifles on your way out of the barracks. Stand-to will be after that until fifteen minutes after dawn. We will then dig trenches until breakfast at nine. At 930, we will go back to digging trenches until 11. At 11, we will practice trench attack and defence, with one company holding the trench and the other two attacking. At 3, we will do a practice barrage. At 4, we will have PT. At 445 we will have dinner. At 5 we will have Stand-To until 15 minutes after dusk. Meeting once Stand-To is over and platoon leaders get to decide what happens after that.
“So, that is it. Everyone not listed now will return to their platoon barracks,” Major Kestel pulled out a notepad and read off the names, “Lieutenants Carter, Cooper, Bridges, Jones, and Hope. Apprentice Warrant Officers Wright and Ferri. Senior Chief Belluci and Chiefs Lorenzo, Jackson, and Edison. All of you come with Corporal Evans and I. Alright. Dismissed.”
Major Kestel was sitting at the head of the table, Evans next to her writing in his notebook.
“First off, Since we will not have a trench yet, Stand-To will be in the same field as roll call with everyone lying down. Chiefs, Corporal Evans, and Private Stoddart will inspect up and down the line to make sure everyone is proper. Evans, could you explain the proper way to Stand-To?”
“Yes Ma’am,” Evans stood up and started to get in position when he looked at Major Kestel, “May I have your scabbard for a moment Ma’am?”
Major Kestel unclipped the scabbard from her belt and handed it to Evans. Evans held it like a rifle and faced the group, “So, first off, note how I’m looking somewhat past the sights. I’m not focusing on a specific target, I’m scanning the area in front of me. I do have the rifle ready to fire though. Your head should be as low as possible while still being able to see, preferably aiming through a loophole. For tomorrow morning, just make sure everyone is as low as possible. My middle finger is also the one on the trigger. This way my pointer finger can be on the bolt, so I can fire another shot as quickly as possible. Another important thing is that shovels should be readily accessible for fighting. Bayonets should not be fixed unless there is a trench breach.”
“Corporal Evans,” a Chief stood up, “Chief Jackson. Doctrine states that bayonets should be fixed to defend against an attack, and that’s how we’ve been drilling the battalion.”
“Thank you Chief, but bayonets are more cumbersome to aim with in combat, and not that useful if someone drops into the trench next to you. It might be better for open combat, but in a trench, it’s pretty much only good for clearing long stretches. It’s best to use your shovel to hack into the neck. This also leaves your rifle open for use in fighting.”