Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
RAF_Louvert

A Story For The Season

Recommended Posts

"A Story for the Season"

 

 

1916: Christmas Eve at the Front. The War has dragged itself along on its steely, mud-caked claws for over two years, and the end seems no closer now than when it all began. At an RFC aerodrome not ten miles from the first line trenches, a group of airmen sit through the morning’s briefing, and prepare themselves for the day’s work. They are nearly all young men, at least in years. But with war comes age beyond a calendar’s mark, and one would find that each man is far older than first appearance would tell if a moment were taken to look into his eyes. As the meeting breaks the jovial banter can be heard amongst the group: the good-natured ribbing and warnings, the verbal jousting, the camaraderie and the closeness that bonds souls together in such tenuous and temporary times. Across the mud at a German aerodrome, a similar scene is being played out. The Jagdstaffel pilots there are also preparing themselves for the task at hand. To look at them, you might imagine they were schoolmates of their British counterparts, rather than enemies soon to be locked in mortal combat. For they too laugh and joke, and share that same bond. And they too are of the "old young".

 

The hour is at hand. On each side the signal is given and the small, fast scout planes skim along the cold, icy ground, and one by one lift into a winter sky as grey as the earth below. They form up, and after climbing to their prescribed altitudes, they head towards No Man’s Land and on to do their best; for King and Country; für Kaiser und Vaterland. They meet, and there is the initial gun pass as each sizes up the other. A few moments later and the aerial battle begins in earnest. To those in the fight it is a mind-numbing blur of action that runs in both accelerated and slow motion simultaneously. A split second given to pull the trigger as a plane zips across the sights: an eternity spent to try and twist out of the path of the bullets. An entire lifetime won or lost in less than an eye blink. To those on the ground it appears as a graceful ballet of the sky, the canvas-feathered birds turning and rolling and climbing and diving. But it is a dance to the death more often than not, and it will end when one or more has fallen.

 

And one has fallen. The long, slow, spiraling pirouette as the finale comes to the dance. The others have now tired and as if by mutual agreement or unseen signal the partners separate and turn away. The audience below does not understand how it can be over so quickly. They cannot see the fatigue and exhaustion of those in the air; cannot see their battered ships, or their bruised and aching bodies; or their tired, aging eyes. No, they can see none of these things, any more than the men in the air can see the pain or the agony endured by those who must fight on the ground. Each sees the other from afar, as through a glass darkly. It is an irony of war that in each case, either in the Sky or on the Earth, a man better understands and is more akin to the enemy he fights in his realm than to his own countrymen above or below.

 

 

Christmas Eve at the Front. Night has fallen and the pilots sit about the dinner table at their respective aerodromes, and talk of flying and fighting, and of family and friends. Wishes of the Season are shared, letters from home are read. Songs of hope are sung and toasts are made to fellow flyers, and to mothers and sweethearts. At one of the tables an empty chair stands in remembrance of the comrade lost that day, and to whom the final toast is made. He will be missed, and to a loved one back home he will forever be a young man with bright, happy eyes; forever a photograph, a memory of a life that could have been. It matters not which side he fought for. He was a man, a part of human kind, and with his passing we are all the lesser for it.

 

 

.

 

May you have safe and blessed holidays wherever you are, and may we each remember the true message of this season:

 

Peace on earth, good will toward men.

 

 

 

Lou

.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

.

 

TKS Gents. Yes I did Olham, glad you like it.

 

.

 

 

Lou, you need to keep your writings and consider publishing something like that. I could see you writing a novel or short story that takes place over just a few days at this time of year in the lives of both sides. Yes, it has been done before, but you've done that wonderfully.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Very eloquent Lou. A nice rememberance for all that served. You have captured much of the atmosphere that also comes from flying OFF in the DiD campaigns and the brotherhood of this forum. May I add my very best wishes to everyone for the coming holidays.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

.

 

Many thanks for the kind words everyone, they are much appreciated. Ras, I have been collecting my short stories and vignettes together over the years with the thought of building more of a novel-length work around them. My hesitation to do so has always been the concern of writing only what has already been written before, and by far better than I. But then I imagine many writers have felt just that way.

 

.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lou, Patrick O'Brian followed in the footsteps of the historical record, Captain Marryat, C.S. Foresster and others. His writings are highly enjoyable and successful. I wish there were his equal writing about WWI aviation and the general conflict.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thankyou Lou,

Your story is very much in the spirit of OFF, and the season,. It reminds me very much of another story which takes place on Christmas Eve, many years later; The Shepherd, by Frederick Forsyth, and read on the CBC every Christmas Eve by the late Alan Maitland. All of our Canadian members will know of what I speak.

Peace to you all,

Ted

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great story Louvert! The missus needed something but I had to finish the story first.

 

My favorite Christmas song.

 

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2505081926071475613#

 

To all the guys (and gals), have a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

 

Fantastic Christmas song CJ..Thanks m8!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

.

 

Christmas_truce_1914.jpg

 

 

 

Keep the light shining. The spirit of mankind can cross all boundries if we have the courage to set it free. No matter what our differences, somewhere, deep down inside, we are all brothers.

 

.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Amen to that!

A song like "Lili Marlene" or a day like Christmas makes the inner barriers

melt away like snow in beginning spring.

 

 

Edited by Olham

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.