July 28th, 1917
Excerpt from Diary of Lieutenant Trent Davis, №50 Squadron RAF (Royal Air Force)
I was confronted by a superior officer today over reporting his son KIA. Although I saw him killed, we could not recover the body. The poor chap was completely unhinged, as I would be too I suppose. Still, there was nothing I could do for him, and he had no call to belt me when I failed to give him the news. I was as delicate about it as can be. This Major had to be prevented from running out into No Man’s Land to look for his son’s body. Every man has his breaking point. It’s a sorry shame to see any man reach theirs.
August 1st, 1917.
Communique to Major Horace S. Browntrout from Brigadier General Mac Allan Macaby, “Mac the Body Stacker”
Browntrout! What’s this bloody rumpus I hear you’re causing with Edward Stanley and David Sykes? The Prime Minister too? Why, they tell me you’re even trying to pester the King? As your commanding officer I SIMPLY WON’T HAVE IT! I understand you feel that promises were made to keep the Saysquack out of combat. Please tell me one of my senior officers is not that gullible. We need every able-bodied body we can get for the effort. We’d even be signing up dogs and cats if we could get them to carry a rifle and meow in time to God Save the King. As you may have heard, you will soon be leading a mixed-unit of Saysquacks and humans together behind enemy lines. I need your full attention to the matter if the mission is to succeed. The Saysquack is no more fitted for clerical duty than an idiot to lead a brigade. He’s the muscle we need to give old Fritz the one-two punch needed to win this thing and be done with it. If we lose a few of them along the way it’s no different than an automobile losing a wheel. An automobile with three-wheels can get on just fine, can’t it?
I need your head back in the game forthwith. It’s a damn shame about your son, Branwell, a bloody grade-A tragedy. He was a fine officer. If you want to make him proud you won’t try to get the Saysquacks out of combat duty, you’ll try to get more of them into it — the little ones too, by George! I’m giving you two days’ leave to get yourself sorted before going on the secret mission behind enemy lines. You’ve earned it. But I don’t want to hear any more bloody racket about you bothering the brass with your personal grievances. It’s goddamned unprofessional, is what it is. Start acting like a soldier. And for Heaven’s sake polish your boots and buttons before you report for duty again. Everyone who sees you says you look like a bloody hobgoblin from Hades. It just won’t do, Browntrout! It just won’t do!
July 29th, 1917
Letter from Horace S Browntrout to his wife Effie, unsent
They’re all dead because of me, darling. I couldn’t stop them. I couldn’t stop Branwell. I had him transferred off the line to train the Saysquacks and as soon as he trained them they put them right back into to meat grinder. I saw them all being taken off the field in wagons, all but our son. It was as if they were asleep, the ones that were not in pieces. I will find our son. I will not return without him. I’m sorry I couldn’t save him, but I will bring him home.
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