Short Fiction by Liam Cartwright and Sean McCaughey

Liam Cartwright and Sean McCaughey Creative Writing

Somme River, north central Somme 17th of august 1916. 

Captain Chambers was counting down from 30; he could feel the anticipation among the hundreds of men under his command. Packed from wall to wall in the British trench like sardines in a can. Pride flowed through his veins. Until his countdown reached 10………. His blood ran cold. Fear gripped him, his mind wandered he thought of his young son Rodger who had recently turned 13. A light sheen of gunpowder fox trotted through the air, from the heavy artillery pieces. No man dared to speak. His hand rested on the drenched sandbags which lined the trench walls. Mud staggered up his boots like ivy up a wall.3…2…1.Captain Duncan Chambers trembled as he blew that whistle. He immediately scaled the mud ridden ladder ‘come on lads ‘bellowed Duncan as he reached the top. He was the alpha of Middlesex regiment .rows of broken young men trudged behind him as they advanced to the German lines. Captain Chambers seemed to be the only man who marched with enthusiasm and confidence with his revolver in his right hand and his bible in the left. He hurled words of glory to his fellow comrades. Chambers had no regard for the chain of command in this place there were men and there were men he saw no difference. They group hadn’t been marching for long before their first casualty it hit him straight in the head ‘so much for tin helmets’ muttered Duncan. And after that they were dropping like flies. Everywhere Duncan looked he could other regiments with casualties of a similar nature. Men lay at his feet searching for help. But Duncan had no time to offer he ordered his loyal men to stay steady ’ Mametz is a couple hundred yards from here, not long to go ‘ as those word passed his dry crusty lips a large piece of shrapnel pierced through his hip .this severed his leg and shattered his hip the pain was unbearable. Duncan dropped like so many of his men. Duncan had never been one to go down without a fight. He tore off the sleeve of another man’s uniform and tied it firmly around his wound. The adrenaline prevented his body from going into shock. 2 men offered their help to their wounded leader; he refused and ordered them to go on. Duncan observed his leg that lay in the bog that surrounded him, he picked it up and used it to prop up his aching body. Duncan pointed his shaking finger at the town of Mametz ‘charge lads!’ yelled Duncan in rage. His men screamed whilst they ran at the German lines with their rifles raised at the Germans machine gunners. ‘FIRE AT WILL’ and in a split second the sound of crackling gunfire polluted the air. The German gunners fell to the floor one after the other .the remaining men that served Middlesex regiment piled into the German trench with pride in their hearts. ‘We have won the jerry’s are down” …everything went blank!

’Dad? Are you ok?’ A voice that seemed familiar to Duncan had broken through his flashback. Everything cleared again. Duncan looked around, he was sitting in his armchair, he could only hear his clock ticking. Then his radio went off, the announcer was talking about the possible outbreak of a second great war with Germany. Duncan almost cried, he wailed and looked at his son who was staring back at him with a puzzling look, “They’re back!” Duncan screamed. “Don’t let them get you too Rodger!” “Promise me you won’t go there like me!”

“Calm down dad” his son responded cautiously, Duncan still looked into his eyes with remorse. ‘’Let’s get you a nice cup of tea. Yes?”

“Yes…Tea” Duncan responded as he calmed his voice, and drifted back to sleep.


Clore Poetry and Literature Award, Heaton Manor School, Newcastle