Fearing the flying wedge
June 8th, 1917
Diary of Captain Branwell Browntrout, 2nd Olympian Saysquack, Battle of St. Elois — Oosttraverne, Flanders, Belgium.
There were about 1,200 us — all Saysquacks except for me and several lieutenants — as we went over the top [of the trenches] after Fritz heavily bombarded our position. We crossed No Man’s Land in a flying wedge formation — a type of infantry tactic used by ancient Roman troops that allowed us to make maximum use of our huge shields (it takes about three very strong men to lift one Sayquack’s shield). Our advance was slowed by the shields and by the fact that the Jerries sent a pursuit squadron of aero-planes to harry us, repeatedly buzzing back and forth, strafing us with machine gun fire as we stopped and took shelter below our bulletproof shields. Since my human frame was too weak to wield one of these gargantuan shields, I huddled next to Herbert, my Saysquack sergeant and batman (valet). Thanks to our training, some of the Saysquacks were able to get on their Lewis guns and return fire, bringing down a few of the planes.
Eventually, by keeping on together, we methodically slogged our way to the edge of No Man’s Land, where the enemy infantry surged forward and hit us with everything it had. Our shields deflected all. We kept marching to within 100 feet. Then, they charged at us. The Saysquacks did not waver an instant. They made a kind of war cry and stiffened their resolve, holding their ground as the Germans came at us in waves. The Saysquacks plunged forward through the chaos and tossed aside the advancing soldiers as a child brushing away biscuit crumbs. Seeing this, the enemy’s nerve broke and we rushed in the final few feet, swarming their trenches. It was a complete rout. High Command later said they’d never seen anything like it. Many of the poor sods were so terrified they shot themselves where they stood, before we could persuade them to surrender. We learned from our prisoners that they’d heard tales of cannibalism and worse from the Saysquack. I don’t know whether to pity the poor bastards or be grateful they were so terrified of us — but either way, the advantage was ours.
I wish Father were here to see it, to see that the Saysquack are not the feeble, cowering simpletons he takes them for. They have every bit the fighting constitution that we do. What I witnessed yesterday was not mere bravery and brute force, but the sum of intelligent training and drilling.
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