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The One Legged Soldier
The One Legged Soldier
Normandy is a beautiful place to live. Well, not now, but it was. Ever since that first plane flew overhead, this city had been a wreck. The once plentiful gardens and flowering tree were now covered in ash and gunpowder. Although, it is still slightly better than Paris. Paris is so cluttered by buildings and people that you almost feel like a can of sardines. That’s where I’m from.
My name is Josalyn Monat. I don’t like my name as much as I should. I was named after my mother and for the longest time before she died, we did not see eye to eye. I’m sorry to say that I’m not sure that I will be around long enough to meet any of you. The Middle of World War II rages around me. I’m not a soldier- obviously- but I’m not just some random person. No, I’m a nurse. I was recently recruited to the Northern Normandy Aid Station. Today was the day I started.
It was four in the morning on June 6, 1944. I woke up to the deafening sounds of the hundreds of metal airplanes rumbling overhead. The landings had started. If I didn’t know any better I’d say that the Americans were trying to wake up everyone in France. The tremors from the planes shook my home. The ground shook and the air hit me in waves. Moments later an explosion emanated from outside. I rushed to get dressed and hurried outside.
When I saw the wreckage of a crashed plane, my eyes widened. There were parts everywhere. The propeller was in a roof, the tail lay in pieces across the street, and the rest was in flames in the park. There was no way anyone survived that. I was about to turn to leave when I heard a commotion behind me. Three men dressed in German military uniforms were full out sprinting towards the wreckage.
I crouched behind an old car across the street. The three men were rummaging around in the rubble. A few minutes after they arrived, they left. Between two of them was a man. A soldier. A living soldier. They were supporting him on one leg. It appeared the other one was still in the wreckage, because he only had one leg. The man was obviously American judging by how the Germans were throwing him around. While the man was dragged away, I froze in my hiding place for a moment longer.
I listened to see if there were any more approaching. There were not. When I knew that the coast was clear, I hastily made my way to thee aid station. I could hear shouting in the station. I approached cautiously and was greeted by the rest of the staff. However, I was shocked to see so many soldiers already wounded. Almost every bed was occupied.
“Josalyn, nous vous avons besoin ici. Les soldats sont des inondations po.” A man yelled from across the room. I case you don’t speak French,
he said, “Josalyn, we need you in here. Soldiers are flooding in.” I rushed over to the man. I couldn’t help but to think about that poor soldier; the one that was captured. I just wish that I could do something to help him. This is completely off topic, but he was pretty
handsome, as well; from what I could see, anyways.
Six Months Later
I was transferred. I was transferred from my home in Normandy to the freezing cold town of Bastogne. Not to mention that it is winter. We just got news that there was to be a supply drop today. I was in charge of watching for the planes. I was sitting outside, my feet in the icy slush, waiting. I was freezing my butt off out there. It was cold out, as always, but it has never been as cold as that first night; when the plane crashed. I was always thinking about the man. I couldn’t help it. On the sixth of every month, I replay that night in my head. How could I help him? What could I do?
I was so lost in thought, I hadn’t even noticed the large crates dropping out of the sky onto the old abandoned houses. I shouted into the aid station,
“La baisse de l’offre est de depart. Venez vite.” That would be, “The supply drop has started. Come quick.” I seem to be the only person here that speaks English as well as French. Well, aside from the Americans. But, from what I’ve heard, they don’t know French at all. They attempt, but fail miserably.
Several other medics rushed out for the supplies. As I moved to help, a small group of soldiers ran from out of the smoke and dust that washed over the cobblestone street. The group was made up of maybe seven men, two of which were carrying a third. The third soldier had lost his leg. He appeared to be unconscious and... familiar. I ran forwards to aid the men, most of whom were badly wounded.
“What happened?” I asked. While we continued down the street to the station at a quick pace, the soldiers informed me of all bruises, holes, or contusions any of them had. I didn’t really ask about all of them. I was only wondering what happened to the unconscious one.
We pulled the man into the crowded aid station and to one of the separate rooms. The two soldiers awkwardly set him down on the bed and stepped back. One of the American medics hurried in to assist me. He only got in my way. The small wooden box cradled in his arms told me that he had just returned from the supply depot. Placing the box, gently, down on a stool, he pulled a packet of morphine powder out and tossed it to me. I ripped it open and poured the contents onto the severed leg. Or, at least, what was left of it.
“We need a tourniquet.” He stated obviously. He just stood there. My God, what kind of a medic was he.
“So go get one, Private Mason.” I replied; an edge cutting through my words. He hastily ran out, back to the supply depot, while continued to work on the wounded soldier. There was no need for a tourniquet, the leg was already scabbing, but I just wanted that man to leave. I wrapped the leg and placed a pillow under it to keep it elevated. I spun back around to face the group by the door.
“What should we do now, ma’am?” one asked. I sighed and walked towards them. They seemed to be newer recruits; replacements, maybe. None of them had a rank higher than Private.
“All of you should go and get yourselves checked out. Just make sure you’re okay.” Without a word, they nodded somberly and left. I sat by the sleeping man and tended to the rest of his injuries. I pulled open the man’s torn, bloodied uniform to find makeshift bandages wrapped around this abused torso. I cut away the flimsy fabric to see the most gruesome sight. The soldier’s chest and stomach were covered in gashed and lumps. He looked like he was used as a punching bag. He had been tortured, a lot. Quickly, I added more morphine to these wounds.
While I was working, I felt him start to fidget. I looked up at his face and was surprised to see his eyes wide open. They were blue. Looking down again, I continued my work. For the next fifteen minutes, it was silent. When I had finished, I wrapped the man in bandages. I was not prepared for any conversation he might start. I knew that he would have questions.
“What is your name, miss? If I may ask.” He asked. What a gentleman. I looked down at him curiously.
“Josalyn.” I began to replace everything back into the wooden box.
“Is that what you wish to be called? You sound as though you do not. Your name should be of your choosing, not of others.” The man stated. I detected a strong southern accent, but he did well to hide it. Sometimes, I couldn’t even hear it. I smiled at him. Such heartfelt words from someone his age. He couldn’t be a year past twenty. My age.
“Such a deep mind for such a young man.” I said. He chuckled.
“I am no younger, nor older than you yourself, if I am to guess correctly. Have I?” I nodded and he smiled. I sat back down next to him.
“So, what is your name, sir?” He looked at me for a moment. I couldn’t tell if he was thinking up a lie or deciding whether or not to tell me. I could go either way. Then he spoke.
“Corporal Thomas Rodier, ma’am. You, however, my call me ‘Tom.’” And he winked. I blushed furiously and lowered my head. I could practically hear the Tom’s smile. I stood up and made my way to the door. “You are leaving already?” I turned back to him. The hurt in his voice was evident.
“You must get some sleep, young man. Bleeding so much will eventually weaken you. It would be best if your body replenishes itself soon.” I said in a hushed tone. He nodded, lied back down, and quickly fell asleep. I smiled and left. What a great day this turned out to be.
One Week Later
Over the past week, Corporal Rodier and I had talked almost every day while he healed. He had decided that he trusted me enough to tell me what had happened to him.
“I was ready and waiting for the green light to come on inside the plane. Half of the stick had already dropped down.” He paused before continuing.
“I was practically vibrating. I couldn’t wait to get out of that plane. Just as I was about to jump, a ground fired bomb collided with the tail of our plane. The back engine exploded sending me and eight others down to the ground. I, as you know, am the only survivor.” He paused to take a breath.
“When those men showed up I still had my leg. Even though it was trapped under a hunk of metal. The two men that grabbed me tried to just pull me out. As you can see, they didn’t do it very nicely. My leg is probably still under the wreckage. The Germans then took me to this bunker. It was dark and damp in the hole that they kept me in, and it always seemed to smell like fish.
For months I was tortured, beaten and starved for information. The questions that they asked, basically, revolved around codes, locations and personnel. Of course I never said anything, but towards the end I was thinking about it. I’m glad that I didn’t though . About a week before coming here, I was sitting in my cell when I heard the guns. It sounded as though the whole war was right outside the door.
When the gunfire stopped, I stood, as well as I could in my condition, and hobbled to the door. It locked from the outside so there was no way for me to get out on my own. I remember my unit coming to my rescue. Those were the men that you met last week. I remember Bradley, Private Sheenan, shouting into the room.
‘You okay in there, Rodier?’ I never thought that I would ever be so happy to hear that man’s voice.
‘Am I ever, Private?’ I heard his laugh from the other side of the door. He told me to step away and I did. Bradley shot the lock of the door, and he, with the other men, dragged me out of the bunker. It had been so long since I had been in the sunlight, so when we got outside, I was practically blinded. They dragged me almost half way across the forest before we had to stop.
Over the next few days, we traveled as far as we could. On the final day, we arrived here. You know the rest.” As he finished, I released the deep breath that I hadn’t realized I was holding in.
I gasped in all the right spots and laughed when he would tell a joke. He really went through a lot. Now I really wished that I could have done something. I feel bad about not helping him. I was about to say something to respond when a messenger came running into the room.
“Sorry to int interrupt, but I have a letter from Major Marx.” The boy quickly handed Tom the letter and left. The Corporal opened the envelope and read the contents. A deep sigh brushed past his lips, into the air. I tilted my head to the side.
“What’s wrong?” I asked. He didn’t answer at first. Tom closed the letter and placed it on the table between us.
“I’m being transferred back to England.” What? I knew he was going to have to go at some time, but I didn’t think that it would be so soon. I nodded in comprehension. He just looked at me. “I leave this afternoon.” This day just gets better and better as I go along.
“Okay.” I walked over to the wall and grasped Tom’s crutches. I turned to help him up, but he was already on his feet.
“That’s it? ‘Okay.’ That’s all I get? I thought that I would get a little more than that.” He pulled open the door, ripped the crutches away from me, and pulled himself out. I ran after him, in hopes to calm him down. Tom met the rest of his unit in the main entry hall. They helped him leave the building.
Now, we are all caught up. I’m standing just inside the doorway calling after the soldiers. I hear the whistling of a bomb nearby, but it doesn’t seem, too close.
“Tom, please, just listen to me!” I yell after him. He, somewhat, spins around to face me, prepared to yell back, but he stopped. His eyes drift up to the sky and widen. I know what he’s looking at. I try to move, but I can’t. I see his unit rush forwards as he stands there helpless when the bomb drops. I’m sorry Tom. Those were my last thoughts before my world went dark.