The ARRSE story

Hello all,

Having read through the thread about Bob Forrest Webb’s book Chieftains and the comments about specific details that only somebody in that profession would know, it got me thinking about a modern version.

So this is the challenge. Can we, as the collective power of ARRSE write a story which would be a modern war thriller. As I’ve seen on ARRSE before, requirement is simple.

Anybody can contribute to the story. It’s a progressing storyline. Each post can be considered to be an additional chapter in an ever growing story.

• The storyline is based on a ‘conventional warfare scenario’.
• It is set ‘the day after tomorrow’, as in, its a modern story.
• I’ve not mentioned a specific enemy nation yet, but I’m sure that will come out in the progressing story.
• I’ve not mentioned a specific setting to the story, but that will also become more clear.
• You can write about anything as long as it benefits the progression of the story – it can be at the lowest level in the trenches with the troops or at the highest strategic levels of politics.
• Try not to kill off other people’s characters without their permission.
• Keep the story as realistic as possible. Like I said it point is to utilise your experiences in the Army, not be McNabb and Ryan wannabes with tales of SF black ops.
• If we get enough interest and contribution, we may even get enough to warrant making some dosh for Hols for Heros.

Let’s see how creative you all can be...
The sun slowly rose on a brand new Sunday morning. The deep blackness of night was slowly succumbing to a rich indigo hue as the stars faded. A rising orange halo began to menacingly emerge out of the horizon. The crisp layer of frost lay scattered upon the grass. A sliver, shimmering void of miniature stars, only these were below rather than above, and these were only visible in the twilight of a day’s first light before the heat from the sun melted it all away. It was early. The church bells had not even started ringing yet from the distant towns. All was still, calm.
Nothing moved in the small village. It was a ghost town, abandoned and forgotten. The atmosphere itself was solemn and a grave mood was bestowed upon all who ventured near. It was the sedate time of the week reserved for religious reflection of the sins of the past six days. The spirits descended upon the village. Nothing stirred in the main road. From the farm at the eastern edge, beyond the abandoned cars, right down to the town hall and small church. All life seemed to be stopped. Even the wind, the usual ethereal nature of the wind passing through the rows of cottages and small houses or even rustling the fallen leaves scattered along the sides of the country lanes made, all of this was silenced and strangely tranquil. Serenity and silence were both bestowed upon the village.
Out of this silence, a lone entity broke the tangible barrier of stillness. A solitary vehicle broke through the veils of tranquillity as it slowly moved down the main road and turned off at the entrance to the large farm. The dead leaves were no longer a mixed pallet of browns, greens, golds and reds. Now they were just a sickly mush of black as mid winter took its grip over the beauty of autumn. They crunched, crackled and squelched as the heavy rubber tires rolled over them and came to a stop between two modestly sized barns providing it cover from view from the village. The noise of the engine was a subtle hum considering the size of the vehicle and was quickly cut short as the ignition was switched off.
Lieutenant Ben Harding stepped out of the Panther command vehicle while simultaneously removing his radio headset and replacing his helmet. From across the vehicle his driver, Sergeant Steve Walters did the same. They both took a second to take in their surroundings. It was still quiet.
“This ‘ll do.”
“Are we camming up?” asked Walters.
Harding looked at the small stone and sheet metal buildings around them, a dull blended pallet of greys, mossy greens and ochre rust.
He shook his head, “No, we have enough cover here.”
Carefully, he then unclipped his rifle from its housing next to his commanders seat in the vehicle and placed the sling over his head, holding it firmly in both hands.
“And I have no intention of being here longer than we have to.”
The faint light fought its way through the branches of the trees. It created stark beams of light and shadows that crisscrossed and danced across the gravelled farm yard. If they wanted to use darkness, they were running out of time.
From the entrance of the farm a second vehicle approached. The Land Rover WIMIK stopped under the darkness of a neighbouring tree line and the occupants got out and cautiously approached the Panther. Sergeant Ram Thappa was the commander, his Recce Platoon had been tasked in protecting the Engineers on their task.
“Sab, that’s my boys in place now.” He whispered in a Nepalese accent.
“Already? You guys move fast.” Replied Harding surprised.
He could see the Ghurkha smile in the darkness.
They were using the farm at the edge of the small village as a stop short and a suitable hide for their vehicles. The river they were heading to was still another kilometre to the south-east but they would have to go the rest of the way on foot. Only four members of the Recce Platoon had come in the WIMIK but Harding knew the rest would have split to both the left and right flanks of their objective’s location on the river and be forming a protective cordon on foot.
Harding and Walters headed to the back of the Panther and started to remove equipment from the back of the vehicle. Tape measures, a survey level and a tripod.
“Are we going to be able to take the levels in this darkness?” asked Walters slipping an engineering pam folder into his patrol pack.
“Yeh, always take it along, besides it’s getting pretty light.” Replied Harding. Not liking how the sky was quickly changing from a deep indigo to a pale lavender.
The two engineers and their infantry protection attentively made their way on foot from the farm, along a line of fields and hedgerows. Suddenly the gentle rumble of running water could be heard breaking the silence of the morning. They pushed through a line of small trees and suddenly there it was. The river was straight in this area and then meandered out of view about five hundred meters or so to the south. It ran north-south with the small village they had used as a hide located immediately west.
Harding scanned left to right with his night vision monocular. The world was one green blur to him. The river glistened and twinkled as a black ribbon with fluorescent green stars within it. The night vision made his helmet front heavy so he raised it from his face. He would not need it again here. The morning’s light was getting ever brighter.
In the shadows of the trees, the ghostly outlines of the infantry soldiers vanished as they moved into various covering positions. To their front was the reason they were here. The bridge. Harding looked at it with awe in the dimly lit glow. He always felt like this when he had seen something so much in plans but finally got to see it for real. In truth it was not particularly impressive. A messy, metal construction of steel girders and trusses. But for this short time at least, it was his bridge.
“Right, let’s get started.” He whispered to Walters.
An engineer reconnaissance of a bridge was an easy enough task. Its purpose was to gather as much structural information about the crossing to be able to determine what role it can play in later operations. With the rapid enemy advancement in the east, this bridge was marked for a possible demolition. This would aid in delaying the enemy’s advance in this area.
Doctrinally an engineer recce would be conducted by either a Squadron’s recce sergeant or a troop commander, not both. However with the casualties the Squadron had already incurred and the breaking up of his troop to be attached to infantry companies, Lt Harding found himself being a surplus commander in the Squadron. However Sergeant Walters was new to the Squadron and not a recce sergeant by any means. In fact he was EOD by trade, and hadn’t touched field engineering since he was a Sapper. Harding suddenly found himself acting as a mentor and engineer recce ‘det commander’. Though he had no troops to command, he loved the role.
As he clambered over the side of the bridge, water rushing by below, he quietly talked Sgt Walters through all his actions. Taking various measurements of one part of the bridge then the other. gap length, road span, the thickness and quality of the metal supports, all were logged down in his notebook. Walters was quiet, watching his every move. Holding the end of the tape measure when necessary or handing him various bits of equipment when requested.
“So what type of bridge is it?” asked Harding, already knowing the answer.
“A...simply supported, steel truss through bridge?” answered Walters. He was sure he knew the answer, but was still unsure. He really did hate this recce stuff, he wasn’t a ‘knocker’.
“Right, that’s the dems’ recce proformer done, but we still need to do a gap crossing one.”
“Why?” asked Walters. He was still quiet. Harding was unsure if it was just his way of assimilating all this new information, or if it had just become too much and gone over his head. This was hardly an ideal training environment.
“The bridge is too small to act as a obstacle itself. The enemy may be able to bridge the river anyway. We need to see what we need to do to prevent that.”
“Mines?” suggested Walters. In the brightening light, his face was becoming clearer. The camouflage cream on his face was starting to wear away after the long night of conducting several river crossing recces. This bridge was the last one.
“Yeh, barmines. But also incorporated with craters and any other’s really up to the OC.”
Harding was getting impatient. It was getting too light for his liking. He knew the enemy’s main force were still several hours away, but their vanguard elements could be already watching them.
Harding started setting up the red tripod and attached the bright yellow level on top while Walters extended a long black and white striped pole with regular measurements on it and began to wade into the river.
From the neighbouring trees a shape emerged, the MTP camouflaged uniform became more visible as it came closer. Sgt Thappa stopped at the abutment of the bridge, resting his rifle’s handguard bipod on the cold flaked metal of the truss.
“How long Sir?” he asked. He had been growing weary of the engineers taking their time doing random things on the bridge. Baby sitting them was not what he and his recce platoon should be doing. Not while the Brigade’s reconnaissance elements were the only unit further forward providing a recce screen for the enemy’s advance.
He was alarmed to see them now setting up some kind of camera looking device on legs on one side of the river bank.
“Not long.” Said Harding vaguely. Looking at the survey equipment. He knew what the infantryman must be thinking. He was starting to question himself.
“It’s getting light, we need to go soon.” Insisted the Ghurkha NCO.
“I know, but we need to get as much information as possible.” Said Harding, questioning his own words.
“Second thoughts Sarge,” he said suddenly, turning to Walters in the water. “Lets do all the stuff we can without the level now.”
For the first time in hours, Sergeant Walters actually showed some enthusiasm.
Harding started filling in the paperwork for the gap crossing report as quickly as he could, skipping over the bits he could do later, from the safety of his Squadron’s HQ. Any measurement that didn’t require a detailed measurement, he estimated. As the sound of the birds singing their morning songs rose in volume, he was starting to realise they had been here too long.
Suddenly a noise caught their attention, a distant thud echoed from beyond the far side of the river. It was the sound of an explosion. Everybody paused. Harding’s pencil froze mid word on his note book, Walters was a statue as the cold water flowed around his legs. The otherwise invisible Ghurkhas is the trees lifted their heads at the sound, causing the strips of material, vegetation and other forms of camouflage in their helmets to make them visible for a split second.
Another bang followed the first, then another. The rumbling of impact of artillery a few miles to their east. Harding looked at Thappa, the look the infantry senior NCO gave the engineer officer from under the rim of his helmet was all conformation that Harding needed.
“Sarnt, tell your men to prepare to move, we are done here.”
“Sir.” Said Thappa, turning and speaking quietly into his headset. The infantry around them started to get up and move back.
Walters was already out of the water winding up the tape measure as he went.
“We off Boss?”
“Damn right.” Said Harding, slinging the tripod over his shoulder. An engineer recce was a balance between getting enough information but not over exposing yourself, and none of them were willing to hang around any longer.
By the time they got back to the vehicles daylight was all around them. There was a welcoming warmth as the morning sun fought its way through the layers of dying leaves as they desperately held onto the long branches. A mixed spectrum of reds, yellows and assorted browns also added to the warmth of the atmosphere. The ground was still damp from the more common mid-November rain but it didn’t matter as this was a welcome change.
While Sergeant Walters clattered around in the back of the Panther with the survey kit, Harding went straight to his commander’s seat and removed his helmet. It was a great lift of weight from off of his head. Small waves of steam lifted from the sweat coved pads inside and mixed into the cold air of the morning. He slipped the radio headset over his head and switched his radio to the engineer’s squadron net:
“STEEL Two Zero, this is STEEL Two Three Alpha, over.”
A second later came the reply, a distant, tinny voice in his ear.
“STEEL Two Zero, send over.”
“STEEL Two Three Alpha, task complete. Moving back to your location now, over.”
“Roger out.” Was the simple reply ending the conversation.
In his other ear he could hear the battle group net. A mix of frantic voices and contact reports, one after the other.
He looked out of his vehicle the sun was high enough in the sky now to pierce through the tangle of farm buildings. The remaining dawn’s darkness was fading away behind him to the west. The gradual glow now being interrupted by the sudden and regular flashes of distant explosions. The tranquil, ghostly conditions of the morning were now gone however. The birds had stopped singing and all that now echoed across the horizon was the ever louder sound of approaching danger.
Looking for a good book to read, and suffering from 'I can do a better job than that' syndrome.
Feel free to contribute, that's the whole point.
More Forrest Gump than Forest Webb, it seems to me. Thanks for wasting my time, Bubba.
Surely when Sunday morning was BRAND new the sun was yet to rise, unless it's set in the Arctic I suppose. I don't know, I only got that far. Couldn't you start it with: It was a dark and stormy night?
Coyote was walking one day when he met Old Woman. She greeted him and asked where he was headed.

"Just roaming around," said Coyote.

"You better stop going that way, or you'll meet a giant who kills everybody."

"Oh, giants don't frighten me," said Coyote (who had never met one). "I always kill them. I'll fight this one too, and make an end of him."

"He's bigger and closer than you think," said Old Woman.

"I don't care," said Coyote, deciding that a giant would be about as big as a bull moose and calculating that he could kill one easily.

So Coyote said good-bye to Old Woman and went ahead, whistling a tune. On his way he saw a large fallen branch that looked like a club. Picking it up, he said to himself, "I'll hit the giant over the head with this. It's big enough and heavy enough to kill him." He walked on and came to a huge cave right in the middle of the path. Whistling merrily, he went in.

Suddenly Coyote met a woman who was crawling along on the ground.

"What's the matter?" he asked.

"I'm starving," she said, "and too weak to walk. What are you doing with that stick?"

"I'm going to kill the giant with it," said Coyote, and he asked if she knew where he was hiding.

Feeble as she was, the woman laughed. "You're already in the giant's belly."

"How can I be in his belly?" asked Coyote. "I haven't even met him."

"You probably thought it was a cave when you walked into his mouth," the woman said, and sighed. "It's easy to walk in, but nobody ever walks out. This giant is so big you can't take him in with your eyes. His belly fills a whole valley."

Coyote threw his stick away and kept on walking. What else could he do?

Soon he came across some more people lying around half dead. "Are you sick?" he asked.

"No," they said, "just starving to death. We're trapped inside the giant."

"You're foolish," said Coyote. "If we're really inside this giant, then the cave walls must be the inside of his stomach. We can just cut some meat and fat from him."

"We never thought of that," they said.

"You're not as smart as I am," said Coyote.

Coyote took his hunting knife and started cutting chunks out of the cave walls. As he had guessed, they were indeed the giant's fat and meat, and he used it to feed the starving people. He even went back and gave some meat to the woman he had met first. Then all the people imprisoned in the giant's belly started to feel stronger and happier, but not completely happy. "You've fed us," they said, "and thanks. But how are we going to get out of here?"

"Don't worry," said Coyote. "I'll kill the giant by stabbing him in the heart. Where is his heart? It must be around here someplace."

"Look at the volcano puffing and beating over there," someone said.

"Maybe it's the heart."

"So it is, friend," said Coyote, and began to cut at this mountain.

Then the giant spoke up. "Is that you, Coyote? I've heard of you. Stop this stabbing and cutting and let me alone. You can leave through my mouth; I'll open it for you."

"I'll leave, but not quite yet," said Coyote, hacking at the heart. He told the others to get ready. "As soon as I have him in his death throes, there will be an earthquake. He'll open his jaw to take a last breath, and then his mouth will close forever. So be ready to run out fast!"

Coyote cut a deep hole in the giant's heart, and lava started to flow out. It was the giant's blood. The giant groaned, and the ground under the people's feet trembled.

"Quick, now!" shouted Coyote. The giant's mouth opened and they all ran out. The last one was the wood tick. The giant's teeth were closing on him, but Coyote managed to pull him through at the last moment.

"Look at me," cried the wood tick, "I'm all flat!"

"It happened when I pulled you through," said Coyote. "You'll always be flat from now on. Be glad you're alive."

"I guess I'll get used to it," said the wood tick, and he did.
Why isn't there a button for "That was ******* shit but it made me laugh"?

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