As the salt water engulfed them once more, Private John Heisenberg of the 4th Platoon, US Marine Corp, was already angry….
‘What the hell is with this nonsense. Must be 100 times we’ve hit this beach. Always the same result. They win, we lose. Madness!’
‘Och, come oan man. This time, this time for America and Scotland’
‘Your a madman. How they ever let a Scot into the Marine corps, I’ll never know’
Another explosion to the left of the landing craft sent another wave lashing on top of them. Suddenly, they stopped and the landing craft door slowly lowered itself. This was the time they were at their most vulnerable. A sitting target. Explosions could be heard all around them, along with the sound of gunfire.
‘Ok Guys, Let’s Hit It!’
No matter how hard you tried, wading through water waist deep, was a slow and frustrating process. No matter how great the desire was to go faster, the grey sea was out to stop you. Bullets whistled past Heisenberg ears. He’d never been hit at this point before, but you never knew the moment. He closed his eyes, lungs bursting, he stretched every sinew to hit the beach and hopefully, temporary safety.
He’d been through this before. He knew there was a sand dune to the right large enough for at least half a dozen men. From there, it was possible to get to a point where they could at least see the pillbox and take a shot at it. He knew, even to reach that point, casualties were inevitable.
‘Get oot o’ ma road man, yer like an elephant wi gumboots oan!’
Private Heisenburg clattered into McQuade and found himself on his knees, in the water.
‘C’mon man, wiv nae time fir swimming aboot in this pond, the piraña will get you’
As McQuade helped him up, and, despite bullets, smoke and fire all around them, Heisenburg laughed. He and McQuade had been on so many missions together, they were like brothers. It always seemed to be Heisenburg who fell, with McQuade coming to the rescue every time. The Scot always seemed to be in the same place, ready to help him, without fail.
The sea released its grip on the them both and they found themselves pounding towards the right. Ahead, 18yr old James Hoolahan fell to the ground like a stone.
‘Christ, he took a hit the last time. Unluckiest son of a bitch so he is’ shouted McQuade.
‘We can’t leave him. We’re not far from that dune, let’s grab him’
150 yards might not be a great distance but, when you’re carrying 12 stones of marine, it can seem like 150 miles. They dragged Hoolahan by the lapels and, after a few close bullet whishes, they made the dune.
‘Sheesh, he’s been hit in exactly the same place as last time. Took 6 months before he was back on duty. Looks like he’ll be on his holidays once again’
‘Aye, that’s if we get him out of this hellhole’
A large shell landed nearby sending a shower of debris and sand on top of them.
‘Ok, we patch this boy up, he’ll be fine here. A medic will find him. We’ll go again through Hell Valley, only this time, we’re gonna kick some ass’
‘Aye, right son, kick some bonnie arse we will’
Having patched up young Hoolahan, McQuade and John looked at each other, shook hands, and ran. They ran like Olympic sprinters across the sand. They knew they’d be spotted and soon a rain of fire would descend upon them. They both knew the chances of making it were slim, but, they both knew, the only way to win this was to take the giant pillbox out, something, no platoon had managed thus far.
John could here McQuade humming some Scottish lament in between lung bursting gasps for breath. At any moment they could both be hit and die on a lonely French beach, and the mad Scot was singing.
Then it started. The sand danced in front of them like tiny whirlwinds, as bullets scattered the shore. Soon, they could hardly see for sand. As usual, Heisenburg started to fall behind. Although he was fast, he was no match for the flying Scotsman. His lungs were now officially on fire. He heard something hit him. Oh god, this was it. He was annoyed, he’d nearly made it. The next dunes and safety were so close. He ran and ran, waiting for the pain to hit him. Through the smoke he caught a dark object ahead. It was McQuade.
‘Here son, yiv made it. Well done that man!’
Heisenburg landed in a crumpled heap.
‘I’ve been hit!’ He gasped.
‘Hit! Where son, where have ye been hit?’
‘Right here in my chest. Nearly knocked me off my feet’
‘Ah cannae see anythin’ son. Where do you feel the pain?’
‘I don’t know….oh GOD it hurts….’
Then………. McQuade spotted it. There was a bullet hole in the top left pocket of Heisenburgs jacket.
‘Ok, son sit still’
He quickly opened his jacket. That was weird. No blood. He looked inside. There was no hole on the inside of his pocket.
‘Is it still sore son?’
‘Yes, what is it, am i dying, something definitely hit me’
McQuade looked inside the lads pocket.
‘Its my fathers war medal. He gave it to me when I signed up’
‘Well son, yer Dad just saved your bloody life. The bullet’s skimmed awf it and away! Yer a lucky boy’
The battle raged on around them………
‘Richt. Let’s give those jerries a taste of their own medicine’
McQuade picked up his rifle and took aim at the German pillbox.
‘This is bloody hopeless. We’re trapped on this stupid beach and we’ll never shoot anyone in that pillbox from here’
Two feet away Fran thumped the keyboard……
‘Well, you got me sucked in to playing this and, after two hours, they’ve been killed 73 times and we’re still stuck on the bloody beach’
‘It can’t be that hard. Some people finish the whole thing in five hours…………..try again…..what’s that guy on the beach saying?’
‘I can hear someone saying something’
‘Over here private, over here!’
‘What’s he saying?’
‘Okay Okay…..he’s telling me to go over there’
McQuade and Heisenburg heard the voice………
‘Over here Private. Over here……..’
‘Look, there’s a hole in the wire…….Let’s go’
As bullets continued to spray all around them, the Scot and the American ran like the wind towards the voice. Suddenly they were through the wire and on their way to the tops of the grassy dunes. The Pillbox was now to their left.
‘We’ve got cover now. If we sprint to that dune over their, I think we can get behind them……let’s go’
Within 60 seconds McQuade, Heisenburg and four other members of the platoon crouched behind a wall to the right of the pillbox.
‘Okay….two grenades…..then we rush………on my mark’
They all knew this was it. One shot, one chance, and inserted into every second, a chance they would die. Heisenburg touched his fathers medal, closed his eyes……….
‘Within seconds they heard the explosion. There was no time to thin about their opponents and what might have happened. They had killed hundreds of their mates and kin. As they entered the concrete box the smoke hindered their view. They sprayed the room from top to bottom. Within seconds the place lay silent. As the smoke cleared six German bodies emerged from the smoke, lifeless.
‘Well done guys……good job…….we’ve secured the bridgehead. We’re okay now’
McQuade put his arm around his new found friend.
‘Thank god, Thank our lucky stars and most of all thank your Dad…..’
Two feet away.
‘Well done Fran…..you’re an XBox expert now, ready for Level 2?’
‘Only A Game’ was brought to you by David Linden. Follow me on Twitter via @qosfc1919 © Dodo Productions 2015