The foul taste of vomit lingered in my mouth as I lay trembling recounting the events that changed my life. When Corporal Foster told me the orders almost an hour ago, my body froze as I felt ice cold. I felt nauseous as I processed what he was telling me, I stammered in disbelief, arguing against his orders. The way he spat out the word 'German' was evident of his hatred for them. Some of the soldiers were prepubescent children which were given a gun and a helmet and ordered to run forward and not turn back or their mothers and fathers would be shot. The German soldiers were people too.
We were led to the pit that the prisoners were held and ordered to take the prisoners to the ravine. Their faces screamed of their terror and anxiety as they dragged themselves single-file through the scarred forest drunk with fatigue. On the hike to the ravine, I kept rolling a part of a poem I knew over my tongue, 'As under a green sea, I saw him drowning. In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,he plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.' I felt helpless to the inevitable fates of the prisoners, unable to do anything to stop their gruesome ending. A loud whimper rung out into the forest, I turned, expecting it to be one of the prisoners but I realised it was Drury as he fled into the bushes, the foliage concealing his terrified footsteps. I yelled out to him, he would be punished badly if Capt. Matlock found out. I wish I could run away too, I couldn't even look the Captain in the eye on a normal day, let alone face him if he found me after disobeying direct orders.
I couldn't believe I was about to do this, I mean on the battlefield is alright, but in cold blood? I carefully pulled out my sodden picture of my wife and daughter. I had to do what I was told if I was to fulfil my promise to come back to her and go on our honeymoon. I had only seen my baby girl once briefly before I was whisked off to this hell-hole. Trying to hold back the tears welling up in my eyes and push the dry lump back down my throat, I pushed the damp photo back into my pocket.
"We're there!" yelled one of the privates as the prisoners lined up. I took aim. I pulled the trigger.
The harsh cracking of the rifles rung out through the woods, there was no turning back. My decision was final. I felt slightly nauseated at the thought that I had indirectly taken away several people's lives in cold blood. Although they were originally on the other side of the trench, they had families too, people to come home to, people they shared their memories with.
I had to do this, I was responsible for my men and these prisoners were making us prevalent to the enemy. The people of America had trusted me to bring their sons and husbands home alive, to return with just as many people as when we departed.
I could see the men silently snaking their way through the war torn forest, each with a slightly different expression on their face. As their rifles dangled by their shoulders, it was evident who the beginners were and who were the experienced, who thought of them as people and who thought of them as things.
In a war situation like this, you couldn't afford to be emotionally attached. You couldn't show any emotion in front of your men, otherwise they will not trust you, even if it goes against all of your moral values.
All of the soldiers sat in silence in the trench, even the lively melody of the harmonica was abruptedly halted. Minutes past as nothing was said. Through the trees I could see Mundy run out to the ravine, I won't bother reprimanding him, just let him clear his head.
War is hard, war is hell.