“Sir!” Evans saluted the Captain.
Captain Stoddart stood up and saluted, “It seems I cannot escape you Corporal.”
“Well Major Kestel wants us to learn from the best Sir.”
“Well I am hardly the best, I just know the area rather well.”
Evans looked at his watch, “Well Captain, you’re almost on Sir.” He then led the Captain to the side door, where he would make his entrance as soon as Major Kestel stopped talking.
“Hello… I am Captain Stoddart. Of the Ethslin Mining Corps. Major Kestel asked me here today to, uh, describe the terrain features that you will encounter during your operation. I, uh, studied that area during my time at university, so I am… I guess an expert. And I agreed to come because my lovely wife Polly is attached to your unit. So, I guess I should introduce what I am going to talk about specifically. The terrain you will be fighting in. You will be landing in an area with about 100 meters of open beach followed by sedimentary cliffs.There a some trails cut into the cliffs, and then mostly flat ground. The soil is about two meters deep before it gets into the bedrock. The top formation is very friable sandstone, so you should be able to just use your shovels to hack through it pretty easy. Ooh,” Captain Stoddart snapped then pointed at Polly in the back corner, “Polly, I just remembered, the formation at the base of the cliff has some ooids if I remember correctly, can you break off a chunk for me?”
Polly stood up and saluted, “Yes Sir.”
Captain Stoddart reached for his hip and yanked a funny looking hammer out. He held it out towards Evans, “Corporal, take this to Polly for me,” After Evans took the hammer, the Captain looked forward again, “Right then.”
Evans stopped paying attention to the lecture. He slowly walked to the back of the meeting hall and looked at the hammer. It had a square head and a pick in the back. The pick seemed hardly big enough to do anything that useful. He flipped the hammer in his hand a few times before he got to the back. He looked at Polly, shrugged and held it out. She didn’t notice for a few seconds because she was enamoured with Captain Stoddart, who was off track again and talking about grain size or something.
She looked at him, grabbed the hammer, and went back to watching. And she was probably the only one in the room who was paying attention. Evans walked back to the front of the room and took out his notebook. For sake of appearances. He was really writing a letter to Anna, but writing looked like writing, so he was good.
It took about half an hour, but the Captain did eventually get to some useful information about the cliffs the battalion would be climbing. He then had Polly come up and demonstrate how to fit proper climbing gear. Which was less useful because the Battalion had only been issued ropes and ladders, not harnesses.
The morning after, the Battalion was trucked out to an area with some cliffs to climb. Of course, the cliffs already had the ropes and ladders set up. The training basically consisted of constant climbing and lowering. Soldiers had to practice climbing up to the top in full kit, then hauling up heavy equipment, and then lowering people down in stretchers.