Doughboys

There were additional intolerable aspects of this trench war that required toughening one’s resolve to survive. Outside of the enemy, who could lob high explosives or gas at any moment and keep you awake all night with shelling or a raid, one had to do battle with the vermin. Sizable rats that had feasted on the carrion of both sides for the last four years were now unafraid of humans and spent the days and nights marching over sleeping men. Moreover were the chats or lice that were more persistent at making life miserable than the rats. But, the men were informed that all of this was just part of the process that turned farmhands into fighters, salesmen into soldiers, waiters into warriors, and haberdashers into heroes.”

-Excerpt from the book series Doughboys.

Doughboys (a series)

[Four books on the American men who fought in WW1.]

The untold stories of common boys who grew into the men we sent to France, and the uncommon part they played to end the Great War. Rich in character and action filled plot.

Working Titles are…

  • Book One: Ragtime to Wartime- “Le’s Go!”
  • Book Two: The Yanks Are Coming!
  • Book Three: First Ace
  • Book Four: Four Gold Stars

What began as a fictional telling of the story of America’s first Unknown Soldier entombed at Arlington, (after four years of research) became a blending of the true story of my own grandfather and his brother in France together with the lost stories of other overlooked heroes. Doughboys retells with gripping passion, their heroic acts that went unnoticed for many reasons. Doughboys is a “rest of the story” that climaxes and recycles the reader to Arlington where it rekindles the questions of, “Who is laid to rest in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of WWI?” and “How did he get there?”

Private Walter Sidner : The author’s grandfather and a main character in The Yanks are Coming! of the Doughboys series.

Walter, a simple farmhand, had risked his life to save fellow Doughboys, had been shot and placed on the dead wagon by the Germans before he awoke to slip off and head back into the horror of No-Man’s-Land.What began as a telling of America’s First Unknown Soldier who lies entombed at Arlington, after four years of research became an epic blending of the true tales of the author’s own grandfather who was shot, gassed, thrown on the dead wagon, and crawled away to escape back over No-Man’s-Land to freedom.

Lt. Paul Baer : The real first ACE of the United States Air Corp and a chief character in book one of the Doughboys series.

Though Paul, a mechanic, was the first American pilot in the United States Air Service to shoot down five enemy planes to become the first US Ace, after his capture the title was ceded to another even after he survived an escape.

It is the real story of the actual first American Ace in the skies over France who missed this praise because he was taken prisoner after surviving being shot down. Paul Baer was successful in an escape attempt only to be recaptured by foul tormentors who tortured him just days before the war’s end.

For more information about World War One visit http://www.ww1doughboys.com

In 2017 the United States is recalling the conflagration known as World War I on the 100th anniversary of our entering the war and the important part U.S. Doughboys played in bringing it to an end.

Doughboys is based on the narratives of real soldiers, retold with gripping passion, and intense, accurate action whose peak is met on the battlefields of France. It is the untold story of four uncelebrated heroes of the time; of real soldiers whose heroic service went unnoticed either because of their humility or station,  because of prejudices of the time that fumed over the color of their skin, or just the familiarity or bias of the dispassionate press, insuring their bravery was ignored.

It is the real story behind the worst act of terrorism this country had ever known till 9-11 and the German spies that caused it.

Doughboys is a historical novel that reawakens its readers to the question of, “Who is laid to rest in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of World War I at Arlington? How did he get there?” It brings us as a nation back to understanding the importance of our part in the war at a time when we just wanted to “let the European monarchs have their family feud.”

 

 

[SEE EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER ONE BELOW]

 

Private Lawton Brown : The author’s grandfather-in law and a chief character in book one of the Doughboys series.

It is the real story of the author’s wife’s grandfather who was one of the few to survive the raging Spanish Flu that killed more soldiers than the battlefield’s bullets, bayonets, or bombs.

Lt. James Reese Europe : The first black officer of the United States Army to cross over into No-Man’s-Land and a chief character in book one of the Doughboys series. Armed only with the small peashooter the French had given him, James, a musician, and the first American black officer to cross over the lines at night on a raid into the enemy trenches worried how the little pistol was to save him from the huge shells the German canons would drop on him.

It is the real story of a courageous black American musician who, if he had survived, would have been more famous and important to the development of the music called Jazz than Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. James Reese Europe dreamed of how his race’s music would make a difference in their futures, and how a unique all black regiment could help lift his people out of the age where the best they could hope for was being a porter or a Pullman car attendant. It is the true story of the Harlem Hellfighters and how they struggled for the opportunity to go fight against tyranny and for freedom.

 

EXCERPT FROM BOOK FOUR: FOUR GOLD STARS

From a musty trench under a dark moonless sky that hung over the battlefield like a coffin’s shroud, Sergeant Younger watched intently. Artillery shells blasted away at the enemy lines silhouetted in the blazing flashes before him in the near distance.  His heart raced as he looked through a set of periscopic binoculars to see out over the top of the trench. He was good at not letting his men know of his anxiety still, he was concerned that they not see it. To them he was the experienced old man, their leader, though he was hardly any older than most of them. The Doughboy huddled in the dirt next to him peered up at his Sergeant and wondered what the non-commissioned officer saw in the glasses, then he gazed beyond the Sergeant’s helmet to spot the elusive stars that could occasionally be seen through the drifting smoke. The shelling had just begun at 5:45 a.m. on the dot as expected.  In the faint, but growing morning light what Sgt. Younger does see in the midst of the barrage, is that the air over the enemy is thick with smoke and falling dirt and dust from the explosions in their positions. This aerial debris mixes with the misty dew of the early morning and makes seeing anything of substance nearly impossible. Younger frowns. This will make confusion for his men more likely, but even so the shelling is producing its desired results as occasionally a blast will instantly be answered with the scream of terror and pain of a dying man.

It was the morning of Oct. 3, 1918, in the Champagne sector in the northeastern corner of France. The 9th Infantry Regiment of the 2nd American Division had detrained at Chalons-sur-Marne and had spent a difficult night marching in mud some twenty-two miles to a place north of Somme-Py to give its assistance to the French XXI Corps in an area where the enemy had been a particular problem since the beginning of the war nearly four years prior in 1914.

At 5:50 a.m. Sgt. Younger saw the artillery blasts of the French shift closer and begin landing in the barren tract called No-Man’s-Land between his and the enemy trenches. This bombardment was intended to provide his men the cover of what was called a rolling barrage. This was the signal he had been waiting for. He handed the periscope to someone and blew his whistle.

“That’s it! Let’s go boys! Over the top!” he yelled and he led as his men scrambled out of the trench and up into the barbwire and debris scattered wasteland.

Younger knew that to the Germans in their trenches the slowly advancing American figures would only be sporadically seen just behind the also advancing barrage. At first they might not be made out as they progressed on, but as the shelling moved forward over the ground ahead of them the Doughboys would become more distinct.

As their images became apparent to those in the German trenches the Doughboy next to Sgt. Younger realizes that there is little resistance and mutters, “Artty must‘uv got ‘em all Sarge. Not much shootin’ comin’ at us.”

Younger’s voice called out in a clear Chicago dialect, “We’re on ‘em boys. Ready that trench-gun.”

The stocky sergeant stepped to the top of the parapet of the enemy trench below and stopped, pointing his rifle down at the haze filling the zigzagged gorge. He sees no movement in the mixing smoke, fog, and dust swirling from two recent explosions as the barrage rolls past the enemy front line. The Sergeant waves the man next to him to jump in. The sound of the cycling of the man’s shotgun is heard and on his way down the soldier blasts a volley into the mist down the trench. The moment the pellets are out of the blazing muzzle he quickly jerks around and instantly fires another load down the opposite path of the small chasm, then yells, “Clear!”

Sergeant Younger does not hesitate and slides down into the trench followed by other Americans.

Only the explosions of the barrage pressing off into the distance is heard as they stand stooped in the trench with a grimace showing only on the bottom half of their faces below the shadow of their helmets, poised to react to any movement.

In the unexpected stillness a voice speaks, “Sgt. Younger?”

“Quiet!” he snaps back, as his narrowing eyes attempt to see though the air still full of the settling dirt and dust thrown up during the artillery barrage that moved before them. The gunpowder smoke from the shotgun blasts fill his nostrils. The air is damp and musty, but there is the scent of what the Germans used as morning coffee in the mix. He listens carefully. The lack of any sign of the enemy has plastered a scowl on Sgt. Younger’s face. In the mist he spots something and yanks his pistol up ready to fire, but realizes that the hand holding the burning cigarette is not moving.

The cigarette’s German owner, whoever he had been, surely thought it funny to leave his smoldering stub held in the fingers of the dead hand sticking out of the trench wall the Americans had just jumped into. In the old trenches the walls themselves often held the graves of the victims of blasts of previous battles, and now the gruesome palm and its five digits poked out from a place where part of the earthen wall had fallen away.

A thin faced, but stout doughboy of about nineteen called out, “Sergeant Younger, the trench is empty. The Heinies have pulled back.”

The American artillery barrage had announced the coming of the Doughboys and the Germans had fled to their rear trenches the moment the shelling had begun. In the wake of the barrage Younger could see they had left their equipment, a sure sign they planned to return. This put him ill at ease. The Boche were known for pulling back behind the lines during barrages and after the Allies had advanced striking back at their own old positions with a barrage of their own, or a in a surprise attack.

It was certainly not this Yank brigade’s first time over the top nor was it Sergeant Younger’s, but something about this attack was different, new, like he’d never done this before and it had his senses overly alerted.

Suddenly, a large panel barricade of camouflaged duckboard flopped over and from behind the cover in a deeply burrowed alcove tucked in one of the protruding corners of the trench a machine gun blazed and several of the men standing near Sgt. Younger were violently thrown against him. The Germans had been waiting for the American soldiers to pass. They had hoped to burst out firing away at the backs of the unsuspecting attackers killing as many as possible, but they were impatient.

The machine gun’s placement had allowed for it to cover multiple lines of the trench in its swinging arc. The Germans had assumed Younger and those lying with him were all dead, and turned the gun away to the opposite line of the trench where other Doughboys were dodging for cover hearing the tat-tat-tat behind them. Seeing this, the sergeant grabbed the trench-gun laying next to him, pushed the bodies of the men on him off, jumped up and began slam-firing the weapon. Before the German manning the machine gun could spot him Sgt. Younger had pumped off three shots, the first two killing the triggerman, and the third his loader by completely removing the man’s head at the neck. As he recycled the shotgun a fourth time the last German in the machine gun nest threw up his hands to surrender.

Younger struggled to get up to the German yelling loudly, “Yeah, now you want to surrender, don’t cha! Now you wanna give up! But what If I don’t let cha, eh Fritz?”

The Sergeant was breathing heavily. His heart pounded wildly under the power of the adrenaline his body had been pumping into his veins since the artillery fire had begun. His finger on the trigger was poised to pull. “Come on, Hun! Make a move!” he growled.

But the German’s eyes were filled with fear and he was frozen in place. He was only a kid, hardly in his mid-teens, and the dirt on his face could not hide the gaunt and hollow cheeks that proved malnourishment. “…not old enough to leave home, let alone be a soldier,” Younger thought.

A voice behind him said, “We got this Sergeant.”

It was then that Sgt. Younger felt the stab of hot pain in his thigh. Before he could look down at it his leg buckled and he was down on one knee. It was there that he saw that his left pant leg was saturated with blood. A large bullet hole proved that he had not been as lucky as he thought when the machine gun had started shooting. Then he felt the pain in his ribs. Grabbing at it the second wound burned hard and he saw his hand was covered in his own blood.

“Damn,” he hissed and he went all the way down in the bottom of the trench.

Someone yelled for a stretcher as more Doughboys pressed on past the trench opening over him. It was the second time since arriving in France that he had been wounded, but this time it was all the more painful. He knew his men needed him and he was not ready to quit. But he could not get up again. He looked up to see that the now glowing morning sky was turning milky as the soldier yelled, “Hang in there Sergeant! We’ll get chya’ outta here. Ya hear me Sergeant? . . .Sergeant Younger? . . .Sergeant Younger?”

The young voice began to change, become less youthful. The battle hardened sergeant looked up into the young soldier’s face as it began to fade into darkness.

“Sergeant Younger, Sergeant?”

The voice snapped Younger to life again. The artillery in the distance had stopped. The sky was still gray, but the air was clear. Younger realized that he was not on the battlefield any longer, but standing at the door of an old building in the peaceful confines of a courtyard. He heard the voice again, “Sergeant?”

It came from beside him and he looked up as a church bell rang. There was no smell of smoke or gunpowder. There were no dying men calling for their sweetheart or mother at the end. There was only the toll of the bell.