...after the dark clouds of the late afternoon delivered a driving downpour on the tired, hungry, sleep-deprived soldiers.
The sergeant, whom the soldiers called "mother" (behind his back, of course), checked their positions, inspected their weapons, and saw that they were fed, even though all they had was cold, canned rations.
"Dig deep fighting holes, boys!", mother said, "and make sure you have something to bail out the water!... and for the love of God, stay awake tonight. They're here... close. I can feel them." The soldiers were terrified, of course, they were untested, minimally trained conscripts, facing the best trained, best equipped infantry to ever take the battlefield. They hoped that their Sergeant was wrong, but in their 6 months together, he hadn't been yet.
One soldier said to his friend (they came from the same village) "Old mother is always right. They are coming, and I don't think that I will survive the battle." His comrade replied, "oh, come on... everyone knows that mother is as full of crap as anyone else. If he is so smart, why isn't he an officer? Instead he is a lowly sergeant... at his advanced age!" His friend thought about that for a moment then smiled in the dark, wet, gloom. "Well, mother is kind of old. Somebody over in second squad said that he is actually thirty!" They sat in silence, keeping watch in the inky black night and wondered what it would be like to be that old.
While the soldiers wondered about living to the old age of thirty, dark, camouflaged figures crept away from their positions until they were far enough to get out their map and mark the position of the two friends foxhole.
Not far away, an officer from a different army waited. When his men returned, he said curtly "well? How's it look?" The older of the young men said "it's lookin' good, skipper, half of those idiots are asleep, the other half is miserable, wet, and not paying any attention. We got within ten feet of them. It's good place to break the line and roll up both flanks". The Captain nooded and said: "Alright, boys, it's on for zero-three hundred. Pass the word for the platoon commanders and Staff NCO's".
The company formed, by platoons, only a hundred yards short of the enemy position, and at the designated time, began to silently creep through the gloom. They made rapid progress, as the heavy rains had softened the leaves and the twigs to the point where they wouldn't make much noise. Whatever noise the did make was muffled by the rain, and the fact that the rain pattering on a steel helmet makes additional noise.
The young soldiers holding the line almost didn't see it coming... there was a shadow that moved, and then all of a sudden, out of the darkness burst several dark-clad figure heading straight for them. Too startled to even let out a scream, both young men were bayoneted through the chest and throat, their dying gurgles also muffled by the sound of rain. This scene was played out among many of the fighting holes on the line until some alert soul started shooting at the attacking forms.
The other fighting holes in what was left of their company began to shoot (mostly at nothing), and were met with a fusillade of well-aimed, disciplined fire. The ghostly apparitions advanced as they fired... and they began to scream. None of the young soldiers understood what was being screamed... or at least they wouldn't have if anyone was left alive when the attack was over.
The attackers consolidated their postitions after they swept through their objective, and reloaded their weapons, checked for wounded, and took stock. "Skipper, we got two wounded in first platoon, one serious, he broke his ankle, stepping in a hole, the other is a scratch, and no KIA" "Thanks, Gunny", the commander said as the first inklings of dawn appeared. "The rest of the battalion is moving up, and we'll be ready when they get here... Jesus, I love the rain!"
There were two young Marines within earshot of their company commander (whom they nicknamed "Sybil" because of his mercurial nature). Hearing their skipper's good humor and satisfaction, they gave each other a vigorous fist bump (known by some crass idiots as a "terrorist fist jab") and repeated their company motto "Infantry weather, baby! If it ain't rainin', we ain't trainin'!"
***NOTE*** If you noticed, this category is called mostly fiction. It is called "mostly" fiction, because parts of this story begin in truth. When I was a young Marine in the early and mid 1980's, I had a Company Commander, a certain Captain Stephens, whom we referred to as "Sybil". He was a good officer, but you never knew which one of him woulld show up for duty on a given day. In those days, we frequently used the term "If it ain't rainin', we ain't trainin'" because of the rainy nature of coastal North Carolina at certain parts of the year. We also called that weather "Infantry Weather" for the same reason, as well as the fact that night attacks, around 0300 (thats 3 A.M.) are preferred because most people are at their lowest ebb at that point. Add rain, the great silencer, and you have the makings of a great assault.
The main reason that I wrote this little story is because of the incredibly wet weather that we have had here in northern Virginia this spring, but I have decided that I may add a weekly or bi-monthly feature here, called "It was a dark and strormy night"... it may be fun.