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You are with Me

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Introduction

"You are with Me" " Do not move until you are given the order or signal. Ensure before you leave your defensive position that you disarm the safety catch on your rifle. When you leave your position, advance towards the machine gun position, which has been designated for your area. The machine gun position can be identified by a large blockade of logs. When you have disabled this armament, make a strong defensive position with other members of your squadrons...." The Sergeant's voice seemed to drone on endlessly. The soldier listened unthinkingly, knowing everything that the Sergeant would say already. He knew. He'd heard it all before. It had been drilled into him ever since his enlisting. Ever since he'd started training in England. Ever since he'd left for France. It was common sense now, natural instinct. He shifted his weight from one foot to the next, his foot sinking into the dark-brown mud, which he had grown to hate so vehemently. It was everywhere. It got everywhere. Never had he thought that mud could be so dangerous. ...read more.

Middle

He took care to avoid mud entering the barrel by resting the barrel on a plank of wood also resting upright on the trench wall. The planks of wood had been provided to make walkways to rest on the mud of the trench. They had soon been ditched after it was realised that wood was worse than mud when it got wet. Another battle the soldier fought was the battle against lice. They, like mud, could also get anywhere. An aeroplane droned past reminding him that the advance would soon be taking part. A man further down the trench was reading his Bible. He was moving his lips slowly. So slowly. The soldier pulled out his pocket book to find his fragment of the Bible that contained Psalm 23.He flicked through the bits of paper he collected along the way. He fumbled and a small square of battered paper fluttered to the ground and landed face up in the mud. It was a photograph. His photograph. The only one he had of them. ...read more.

Conclusion

He shuddered and read on. He leads me beside the still waters... Suddenly he noticed the artillery were stepping up the firing for one last shelling. The orderly rushed past. "Attack as soon as the shelling stops." He restores my soul... Again he heard the message repeated down the line. He was sweating, breathing hard. His knuckles whitened as he clutched the piece of paper bearing those all-familiar words. He picked up his rifle and his left hand moved slowly down the barrel. When he reached the safety catch he stopped. He slowly moved. The catch slid too with a well oiled noise. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.... The noise became unbearable. He wanted to get away. He was tensed, shaking from the effort. The guns stopped. I will fear no evil.... He waited for a moment to make sure and said a quick prayer. For You are with me.... He left the trench. When they found him, he was still clutching the piece of paper. He was taken to the field hospital immediately to have the remains of his leg amputated. Even then they could not prize the paper from his hand and it stayed there through his operation. He lived. ...read more.

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