Hey Everyone. Today I am bringing you an extract for Somme Legacy by M.J Lee.
July 1, 1916. The Somme, France.
A British Officer prepares to go over the top on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
March 28, 2016. Manchester. England.
Genealogical investigator Jayne Sinclair, a former police detective, is commissioned by a young teacher to look into the history of his family. The only clues are a medallion with purple, white and green ribbons, and an old drawing of a young woman.
Her quest leads to a secret buried in the trenches of World War One for over 100 years.
Hawthorn Ridge, the Somme. July 1, 1916.
Three hours from now, he might be dead.
Captain David Russell checked the luminous dials of his Mappin wristlet watch for the seventh time. Above him, white cotton candy clouds drifted across the sky lazily towards the German trenches.
The artillery had finally stopped firing in their sector after seven days of pounding the line opposite. A deathly quiet had descended on the trench. None of the men spoke, each one just staring at his neighbour.
Beside him, Crawford, normally so chirpy, pressed himself into the uneven duckboards, his head resting against a painted sign for Lux soap.
What had happened? Had something gone wrong? To his left he could see Malins, the Canadian cinematographer, standing above the fire step slowly cranking the handle of his camera.
He looked down at his watch again. 7.19 a.m. The second hand ticked on, silently tolling his life away. The watch was a present from his wife on their wedding day, inscribed on the back with the words, To David, 25 April, 1916.
He peered over towards the German front line, just 400 yards away on the chalk ridge. As he did so, the ground beneath his feet began to tremble. The tremors increased in power and a massive cloud of dust, dirt and earth thrust violently into the air, spuming forth like a vast, black volcano.
The sound followed a second later; a thunderous boom from the bowels of hell. He immediately clapped his hands over his head and ducked down beneath the rim of the trench. Clods of earth rained down on his men, rattling their new steel helmets.
‘Bloody hell, what the feck was that?’ one of the1437614m shouted above the noise of the falling debris.
‘That was a lot of dead Germans,’ replied Sergeant Flaherty.
Captain Russell raised his head above the rim of the trench. To his left, a plume of dust had risen high into the sky, reaching fingers of dirt into the white clouds. Beneath it, Hawthorn Ridge had vanished, replaced by a vast depression where the German trench had once been. The dust began to drift down across no man’s land and an eerie silence settled down with it.
Why weren’t the first line moving forward? Why didn’t they attack now?
On his right, a fox bolted from cover and ran towards their own line, disturbed and frightened by the blast. Somehow it had survived all the shelling for the last seven days, but the mine had finally driven it out of its burrow.
Russell listened. A few birds had started to sing. Chaffinches, he thought. Even amongst all of this, they still proclaimed all the dirt, wire, shell-holes, and broken ground as their territory.
‘Why don’t the first wave go forward now before the Germans recover?’ he asked Crawford.
‘They’re waiting for 7.30. It’s General Hunter-Weston’s orders. Advance exactly at that time, not a moment earlier,’ answered Crawford, staring out from beneath the rim of his helmet.
‘But the Germans will be shattered by the explosion; they should advance now.’
Still the first wave of troops waited.
The silence was broken by a loud explosion on the right, followed by two others. The German guns had finally woken up and were shelling the reserve trenches. David heard the plaintive cries of ‘stretcher bearer’ echoing across the lines.
He checked his men. They all had their heads down, keeping well below the trench.
Sergeant Flaherty edged towards him.
In front, the sound of a whistle followed by others along the line. He heard a faint cheer before it was blown away by the breeze towards the German trenches.
‘Move the men forward, Sergeant,’ Russell ordered.
Lt. Crawford pointed to the left. ’I’ll chivvy along my platoon.’
‘Good luck.’ Russell stuck out his hand.
’It’ll be a walk in the park, sir.’
If this sounds like a book that you would like to read then you can find a copy on Amazon UK
Thanks for reading.
The Stationery Geekette x