Breezes from a day long past

OOC: The attached file is the map of the area before the start of this RP. And the backstory I’m attaching this backstory to is Fall of Monarchies.
A house in Kudohofa (near present-day Tretridia), Threnorn (present-day Tretrid), August 9, 1934

Carl P. Johnson had plans to make. He was going to become 18 next week.

Unlike most young men about to become of age, who were very unsure of their careers, Johnson figured that there was one straight path ahead from him.

He was quite an ambitious person, and very patriotic at a time when Threnorn really needed patriotic young men.

Why? Johnson would never, ever, forget when these tensions started to build. The neighboring nation of Sertanburg had recently doubled in size and industrial capacity by annexing a slightly smaller nation. This made Threnorn, Gresern, and Dergon (present-day Toksun Ance) nervous.

Johnson felt cut off from the world. He always felt that way without the latest edition of the Kudohofa Chronicle. He walked outside and picked it up.

The headline read, “Threnorn cum sociis Gresern!” or in Codexian, “Threnorn allies with Gresern!” Like government documents and other newspapers, the Chronicle insisted on printing in Latin.

The headline was rather self-explanatory, but the newspaper elaborated by saying that they allied out of mutual distrust and fear of Sertanburg.

Oh, well.

Johnson knew what was ahead of him. He would join the army, spend a long time there, and rise through the ranks, and then retire. But then there were the things he wasn’t planning…

[spoiler]I’m not let this thread die.[/spoiler]
Carl’s house, Kudohofa, Threnorn, 7:00 AM, August 14, 1934
Carl woke up from a deep sleep. He yawned, got up, brushed his teeth, and walked down stairs.

His relatives and loved ones jumped out at him suddenly and without warning.
He wasn’t surprised.

They had done the same kind of thing for his 13th, 12th, and 8th birthday. But he was willing to go along with the act, one last time.
As Carl, his relatives, and associates dined on the birthday caek, he and his parents discussed the future.

“So you’re actually going to join the military?” his father asked him for the nth time.

“Yes,” said Carl, who was really getting tired at the question.

“Well, whatever you do, I don’t want that telegram!” his mother reminded him.

She was, of course worried over the infamous telegram that informed the reader of a loved one in the military who was killed in action. Everybody who had a close relative in the military feared it like the plague.

They, of course, knew that Carl was now legally an adult (because he was now 18) and he would make his decisions for himself.

Of course, Carl knew what to do at this point. It would just be a matter of other people…

A boot camp, 0900 hours, August 30, 1934
“Lights out!”

The sergeant shouting the signal could be heard clearly by everybody in the bunks. Carl tried to go to sleep, but his mind was churning from what had happened after his arrival.

He knew only one person in the camp, a man and former schoolmate named Anthony Brown, who was also a recruit. Brown was an old friend of Carl’s, but they had drifted slowly apart after they graduated.

He recalled the events that happened that day. He and some fellow recruits had taken the train the camp. Upon their arrival, the commander in charge pf the camp promised that they would learn how to fight in trenches (trench warfare was quite prevalent in the area, and tanks weren’t sufficient to break the deadlock). Carl noticed that the commander didn’t seem to be interested in his job and that he would much rather be out in combat. The men also then met the drill sergeant, a tough looking man named Ralph Williams. He acted quite tough and did a show of intimidating the recruits (though at this point they were officially a “private”). Sergeant Williams then showed the men to their cabins and their bunks, where Carl and Brown reunited.

Carl rolled around in his bunk, with The commander’s words bouncing around his head. “We will show you how to fight tomorrow, with rifles and bayonets. Now, with these trenches comes a significant chance of dying, so just keep your head, and don’t do anything rash.”

Little did Carl know how important that advice would be.

1300 hours, September 5, 1934
The men were going through one of the most infamous parts of training. They were working out, amidst Sergeant Williams’ shouting.

“I don’t care if some of you can’t keep up. Run, you idiots!”

Carl, thankfully, was not one of the recruits lagging behind. They were still hot, sweaty, and exhausted, because they were running in full military gear, backpacks, supplies, steel helmets, (unloaded) rifles, everything. Carl also noticed that Brown was ahead of him.

After they finished, they took a shower, and went to an area where Sergeant Williams was standing.

“Now, for weapons training, you know the drill.”

Williams assigned half of the men to practice stabbing targets with fixed bayonets, and the other half practiced firing their rifles, which were sometimes hard to aim. This was quickly becoming the daily drudgery, but the commander had promised a surprise for the men at the end of the month.

(OOC: There’s a bit much to cover when it comes for two years, so I’ll stop narrating and report what happened.)
The men completed boot camp and were subsequently given assignments. Johnson and Brown parted ways, hoping that they would cross paths again.

Johnson was given leave so he could attend a military academy. He focused mainly on his studies and was isolated. He was able to finish in late 1935, and was assigned as Second Lieutenant to a platoon on the Threnorn-Sertanburg border. He did most of the command work while the First Lieutenant (who commanded the platoon; Johnson was second-in-command) was away. Up until mid-1936, that is.
(OOC: Back to our normal narrative stuff.)

(OOC, enough with the riffraff, I’m starting the war.)
Kudohofa (the capital)
May 9, 1936

Relations between Threnorn and Sertanburg had deteriorated. The Tretridian Peninsula had split into two factions, Threnorn and Gresern on one, Sertanburg and Dergon on the other. But Sertanburg was certainly the greatest worry to the government. It would only take one spark to start a war.

The previous day, due to a mistaken order, a few shells landed in Threnorn’s territory. The ambassador from Sertanburg apologized on behalf for the government, but the ambassador was recalled and the embassy closed. The government did not accept.

Now, the King of Threnorn, Edmund V, had a declaration of war on his desk. After giving it a lot of thought, he signed the declaration.

Nobody knew what Edmund was thinking that day. And for Carl P. Johnson, that was less than relevant.
The same day, in a communications post near the Threnorn-Sertanburg border

Both sides knew that the day would come. The main problem was being as prepared as possible for when that fateful day came. Both sides had built communication posts and other infrastructure needed for the army’s logistics.

A communications officer sat at his post, waiting. It was an underrated job, sure, sitting at a telegraph, but officers like him were critical for the war effort. The problem was, that none of the troops were aware that war had happened. Combined with the fact that the bases set up were a distance away from the border meant that the Sertanburg troops made early victories, and were already consolidating the ground that they gained by digging a network of trenches. However, they weren’t close to the camps, and so weren’t spotted.

Suddenly, the telegraph started beeping, as a telegram went through its cables:

  • … … … / … … / -. — - / .- / -… .-. … .-… .-… .-.-.- / .-- .- .-. / … .- … / -… . . -. / -… . -.-. .-… .- .-. . -… .-.-.- / … / .-. . .–. . .- - --…-- / .-- .- .-. / … .- … / -… . . -. / -… . -.-. .-… .- .-. . -… .-.-.- / .- .-… .-… / - .-. — — .–. … / – …- … - / -… . / – — -… … .-… … --… . -… .-.-.- / .- .-- .- … - / …-. …- .-. - … . .-. / — .-. -… . .-. … .-.-.-

The officer translated the telegram as:

The war had started.

He sent back a simple .-. . -.-. . … …- . -… / .- -. -… / …- -. -… . .-. … - — — -… .-.-.- (“Received and understood.”) and immediately alerted the highest ranking officer in the area.
An outpost near the Threnorn-Sertanburg border

After that one officer was alerted by the communications officer, he spread the word, and soon everybody knew what had happened.

Carl P. Johnson had been recently promoted to the rank of First Lieutenant and was in charge of his own platoon, which consisted of 20 men. When he was given his command over the platoon, he was pleasantly surprised that some of the men in his platoon were his boot-camp mates, including now-sergeant Anthony Brown.

Carl was sitting on his bunk, cleaning out his rifle when he was alerted that the war had started. Even though it was imminent, and he knew it would happen soon, like most of his soldiers, it took a while for the realization to sink in. It was really happening.

A person always remembers when they found out that a critical moment in history. For Carl, he would remember the hour and minute that he was informed for the rest of his life.[edit_reason]oops[/edit_reason]

The trenches on the front line
July 16, 1936

The trenches of war were nothing like First Lieutenant Carl P. Johnson, or any of his fellow soldiers, expected.

All the training exercises simply failed to accurately portray life in trenches.

Rains had come and gone, and now the trenches on both sides were completely waterlogged. Carl had tried to keep his feet wet, but was not able to. Some of his fellow soldiers had started to suffer from the condition of trench foot.

The constant dread of the trench mortar loomed high above. Both sides knew how effective a well-aimed shell could be, especially if it landed in a trench. Even then, the death toll was somewhat limited, due to the switchbacks in the trenches.

The soldiers started to view the trenches as a fortification, not a temporary defensive fixture. They got larger, and used wood to prevent dirt from spilling in, which was a significant threat that would have compromised their cover, due to how churned the earth was from excessive shelling.

Shelling had already torn up the grass, and so the no-man’s-land, as well as all the other land in sight, were a dull brown. The rains turned the loose earth into a quagmire; one could sink to their knees in the mud.

Life had become monotonous. It was the same every day. Wake up, eat rations, stand in the trenches while dreading both artillery fire and the order to go over the top, eat rations, stand in the trenches while watching the machine guns, eat rations, lie on you bunk at lights-out thinking. Trying to go to sleep was often tough, mainly because the mind would be busy trying to process the day’s events. The soldier would be wide awake thinking why he was in such a horrible place, wishing that the war would just end, hoping to go home.

Watching the enemy try to attack was horrible, but you had to see it. All the soldiers were drilled to recognize the distinctive grayish-greenish color of the Sertanburg infantryman’s uniform, and while such an attack did occur, that color was also covered in the dull brown of dirt, and sometimes, soot from shellfire. There was also no mistaking the steel helmet that they wore, the distinctive gray Stahlhelm, that they wore on the top of their heads. And the soldiers saw them getting gunned down in droves and being killed by artillery and mines.

They also dreaded the order to go over the top, mainly because of the extremely high chance of getting killed by enemy machine-gun fire, stepping on a mine, or being shelled. The machine gun was the worst, though. As soon as the Sertanburg troops spotted an enemy, they started firing the machine gun, sending a hail of bullets across no-mans-land. They were even more deadly when soldiers were tangled in coiled barbed wire, which significantly impeded their movement and made killing them far easier.

Like every other soldier, Carl did not look forwards to over the top. He saw many good soldiers get killed by machine-gun fire, or be killed by shrapnel from artillery, sometimes when they were right next to him. He had been wounded by shrapnel weeks ago, and he spent days lying in the infirmary wondering if he was going to survive, if he were ever to make it out of the horrors in the trenches, and if he did, what he would do or look forward to.

Two years earlier, Carl knew what he was going to do, and what he would do afterwards. Now, he didn’t even know if he would live to see the end of the war.

The frontline trenches near the Threnorn-Sertanburg border
July 20, 1936

First Lieutenant Carl P. Johnson knew the order would come.

But not yet.

Not with shells raining down on the enemy trenches, some striking machine gun nests, damaging them.

Then it stopped, and an officer gave the command. The one the soldiers hated.

The men climbed out of their trenches and started running across no-mans-land. Thankfully the dirt was less wet so they only sank to their ankles. However, they were slowed down by the mud and the fact that they had to keep behind the creeping barrage ahead of them that started right after they exited the trenches.

However, the Sertanburg troops regrouped after the barrage on their trench ended, and started firing at them. Men stepped on land mines and were killed by the blast. The remaining soldiers had to get through barbed wire, which would make them far slower, making the spray of bullets more effective. The unpleasant fate of getting peppered with bullets while tangled in barbed wire met many of the men.

The leadership at Threnorn had expected as well. The shells that hit the trenches did significant damage to the trench, making it hard for the enemies to move through it.

When the remaining soldiers got within a certain range (while trying not to get killed), they started firing at the trenches, and at some point, they threw their grenade.

Carl held one oval Mills bomb, pulled the tab, and tossed it into the trench in front of him. Thankfully, there were no machine gun nest near him and the other members of his platoon, which limited the possibilities of painful death.

It took a while to clear the trenches, but the remaining Sertanburg troops either were killed or surrendered. The remaining men then climbed in the trench, preparing for an inevitable counterattack.

Somehow–somehow Johnson survived the attack, but he was injured and needed treatment. He would need some more time in the infirmary.

September 8, 1936, near the town of Sernos
Carl woke up on his bunk and groaned. His eyes fell on that radio that had been delivered about three days ago. He would have to go out to the trenches soon, but he would spend the time he had listening to broadcasts from home. It tended to help with morale.

He turned on the radio, finding, much to his annoyance, that the radio was tuned to some frequency without a station and there was only white noise. He started trying to find a station when he found General Telegraph Co. (which would be renamed Air Threnorn when its broadcasting became more profitable than maintaining telegraph lines), which had just started broadcasting radio, and were able to use the money they generated laying and maintaining telegraph wires to use the new technology.

He turned off the radio after the time he had was almost up, and started to get ready to go out to the trenches.
That afternoon

Carl was standing in the trenches when a mortar shell landed nearby, killing the soldier next to him, and injuring Carl in multiple places from the resulting shrapnel. If it weren’t for his helmet, he would not have survived the shrapnel. But now he was badly wounded.

The medical units, though already rather overloaded with injured soldiers, came to bring medical attention to everyone injured in the blast. Carl was put on a stretcher and was carried to the field hospital. He was transferred to a hospital further back from the front lines a few days later.
September 10, 1936
Sertanburg Command
Generalleutnant Hartmann G. Keil looked at a map of the trenches. Unsurprisingly, there was almost no progress on either side. That would have to change.

The commander of the section of the trenches near Sernos, Oberst Fiete Schultheiß, walked in. “Herr, ich glaube, du wolltest mich sehen?” (“Sir, I believe you wanted to see me?”) (OOC: This is what I get for using Google Translate to translate things into other languages.

“Ja,” Keil replied. (“Yes.”)

Schultheiß then asked, “Hast du auch nicht gesagt, dass du einen Plan hast?” (“Didn’t you also say that you had a plan?”)

“Ja.” Keil looked up at Schultheiß. “Das ist unser Plan.” (“Yes. This is our plan.”)
He started drawing on the map and telling Schultheiß his plan. (OOC: If you’re wondering, “Oberst” is his rank.)
The afternoon of September 15, 1936, in the trenches near Sernos

Sergeant Anthony Brown was loading a magazine into his rifle when he heard an annoying rattling sound.

The gas rattle.

He looked up, and saw a cloud of phosgene gas drifting towards the trenches. Cursing, he got his gas mask and put it on.

He hated the gas mask. If he wasn’t careful, he would fog up the glass panes that were over the eyes, reducing visibility. But at least it was better than the alternative–a very slow, painful death.

He got ready for what would come next.
When the artillery units that were just behind the front lines found out that there was a gas attack, after donning their gas masks, started to point their artillery at the Sertanburg trenches. (They had been busy trying to destroy the enemy’s artillery.)

The mortars were first, and the men rushed to load and fire shells until the larger and more powerful howitzers were able to drop larger explosive payloads onto the enemy.

The Sertanburg soldiers were getting ready for an offensive. They, already knowing of the attack, were already wearing their gas masks and were about to go over the top when mortar shells started to land on their trenches. Shrapnel cut down nearby soldiers. In the chaos, some of the soldiers ran over the top, thinking that it would be better to climb out of the trenches and risk mines or the machine gun instead of getting killed. Others stayed behind. By the time the larger howitzer shells were in action, Sertanburg troops were scrambling through their trenches, stepping over dead bodies. The medical corps were overloaded.
Shortly later

A very battered and apprehensive Oberst Schultheiß knocked on the door of Sertanburg Command. “Komm herein!” shouted Generalleutnant Keil.

Schultheiß walked in to find Keil looking at the map of the lines. Keil asked, “Ist es so schlimm, wie ich es gehört habe?” (“Is it going as bad as I heard it was?”)

Schultheiß sighed. “Ja.” (“Yes.”)

“Scheiße!” (“Sh*t!”) Keil glared at Schultheiß, clearly angry. “Holen Sie sich Ihre Handlung zusammen, verdammt!” (“Get your act together, dammit!”)
Thankfully for the Sertanburg war effort, they did get the act together. Their artillery started firing upon their enemies’ trenches.

Both sides took heavy casualties, but Sertanburg had more casualties than both of their enemies. That day, September 15, would be remembered as one of the bloodiest days of the war.

(OOC: I need an excuse on why our nations on the Tretridian Peninsula have WWI era technology, even though the world would have probably advanced to early WWII tech with no legal barriers to doing such.)

The Battle of Sernos would drag on, becoming the deadliest battle in the war. After the initial failed assault and the artillery barrage of September 15, the Threnorn command had the mistaken belief that the Sertanburgs had significantly diminished in strength since they dropped hundreds of tons of ordinance in a constant barrage. Aerial reconnaissance showed severe damage to the area around the trenches. The Threnorn troops came in two waves.
The morning of September 17, 1936, near the town of Sernos

Seargent Anthony Brown was thankful that he was not one of the two waves of men who would run across no-mans-land. Though like everyone else, he thought the enemy’s machine guns were damaged to the point that they could not cut down men in the hundreds, there were still unexploded mines that could still kill a person. There were also bunkers that the Sertanburgs had, which would make clearing the enemy lines very hard. The command fully expected them to be manned and fully operable, which they were. They didn’t know that they had restocked on “Pax Fruit masher” grenades (Stielhandgranate Model 24 grenades) on the 14th and haven’t used any yet.
10:00 AM

The signal was given, and a detonator was pushed, which was supposed to set off three mines in strategic locations. (Not land mines, tunnel mines.) These created the largest explosions available to either side and were devastating. Only one exploded.

The activation of the detonator was the signal the men were ordered to leave the trenches on. However, the preparations made to use this perceived opportunity were hasty at best. It took several minutes for all the men in the assault to be running in no man’s land, while the roaring of the artillery guns could be heard in the background—in their rush, the commanders didn’t tell the artillery batteries to cease their barrage.

It was an immediate disaster, as men were killed by friendly fire and land mines. When they became tangled in the barbed wire that was near the enemy trenches, they were slowed down and were then killed by falling shells. The few that made it past were either killed by enemy rifle fire or surrendered and were subsequently captured.
5:00 PM

First Lieutenant Carl Johnson left the infirmary for the first time in 11 days. He was still bandaged conspicuously and was limping, so he was determined unfit to participate in the second assault. But he was still able to fight in the trenches in necessary, so he went back to the front lines and took over command of his platoon from his second-in-command, who was a Second Lieutenant that Johnson had started to befriend when they first met when Johnson became a First Lieutenant.

He was looking out to no-mans-land when suddenly the roar of artillery fire suddenly stopped. Carl, having heard of the events earlier that day, thought that the commanders had learned from their mistakes from earlier that day. However, the command had made the assumption that the all the Sertanburg positions, barracks, and other fortifications were destroyed when the trenches themselves were still in good working condition and the soldiers had just taken cover in the barracks because they were extremely hard to hit. Now that the artillery stopped, the soldiers took their positions and set up their machine guns.

Carl watched in horror as the men began their assault, and were immediately plagued with machine gun fire. Men were shot and killed by the hundreds, and the dead and the dying could be seen lying in dozens on no-mans-land.

Long story short, the medical corps had a nightmare handling the wounded survivors, further overloading their infirmaries. It was a disaster, like many others that were going to happen.