Mercy

It was the 28th of September ,1918. The world was still engulfed in the Great War that had started four years back. These were the final few weeks of world war I as the people were soon about to find out. The battlefield of interest was the village of Marcoing in France.

A British rifle platoon that was stationed in the village had come under heavy machine-gunfire from a German gun post. Henry Tandey was a private in this British platoon. He lay under the cover of a boulder , looking on as bullets rained all around him and his comrades, hopelessly pinning them down. He was helpless to save his brothers-in-arms as a few unlucky shots penetrated through to them. The sound of bullets puncturing a body , making it fall to the ground with a thud ,sometimes preceded by a scream, was a sound Henry was now well accustomed to. There seemed to be no escape from this nightmare of a situation. However, experience gained from fighting in this war had taught Henry  that if you had the guts and a bit of luck on your side, no situation was a literal dead end. He looked to his left and saw a small opening in otherwise thick bushes. He motioned to the comrades who were crouching along with him and pointed towards the bushes. They nodded in agreement. The Britishers waited for a lull in the gunfire. And sure enough after a few tense minutes , the rate of German gunfire reduced as they paused to reload their machine guns. Taking this opportunity, the soldiers made a break for the bushes. Before the gunfire restarted , the soldiers had safely hidden in the bushes. Henry and his comrades stayed low in the bushes and moved silently towards the gun post. They made sure that they moved in a slow, organized fashion lest their movements attract German attention. Henry led the soldiers to close proximity of the gun post. Under the cover of the bushes the Britishers spied on the Germans and realized that the Germans were still targeting the village and the rest of the platoon trapped there.Henry had led the soldiers till here and they all looked at him now, expecting further orders. Realizing this, Henry made the decision that would soon earn him the Victoria Cross. He gave the signals to his comrades to toss their grenades at the Germans at the count of three. One , two and three.

The Germans were looking towards Marcoing , picking out Britishers who were trying their best to hide behind safe cover. The Germans had focused all their attention and machine gun fire in that direction. They hardly noticed the grenades that came flying out of the adjoining bushes. The grenades spelled destruction to the Germans who were caught totally unawares and were helpless as explosions around them knocked them to the ground, injuring many and killing a few. A ferocious ‘CHARGE’ was heard by the disarrayed Germans from the direction that grenades had come from and out came the Britishers , charging at them all guns blazing. Most Germans were killed or severely injured due to the accurate shooting done by the Britishers. They had no chance to react to the assault and the gun post was soon lost.

Henry looked around the gun post and saw dead Germans lying sprawled on the ground , their bodies riddled with bullets. He along with his comrades were now securing the gun post that only minutes ago belonged to the 16th Bavarian Infantry Regiment of Germany. He walked around the gun post noting the excellent weaponry the German soldiers had been equipped with. Walking on, he soon came upon a German Corporal who was quite alive. He was badly injured , but was still trying to escape. Henry pointed his rifle at the Corporal. The Corporal raised his hand in surrender but his alert eyes told that he had still not given up. Henry lowered his weapon.

‘German , I have no intention of killing a wounded and retreating enemy. Run away now.’

The German nodded ,lowered his arms and started making his slow escape. After he had covered a respectable distance, he waved  to Henry and said to him-

‘Many thanks to you soldier. Auf Wiedersehen. Adolf Hitler bids you farewell.’

 

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