In the Trenches
Carson, Age 11, Clarence, MO

So there I was, running through the shallow-muddy trenches in my French military trench-coat and helmet. I was stationed in the French front lines near the Argonne Forest. Let me introduce myself: My name is Thomas Godwin, and Iím twenty years old. My father William Godwin, twin brother Frederick Godwin, close friend David Hickson, and I joined the war when it started. We are Americans from North East Missouri who joined the French Resistance. It was February 1, 1917, World War I. There was gunfire overhead and the sound of cannon fire.

I could tell some men were very afraid as I passed them. I was part of the French army fighting the German army. I was trying to get to my position by the bunker when a squad of Albatross D.V. biplanes, a type of German biplane, started shooting at our trenches. Then British S.P.A.D. biplanes came in from the side and opened fire on the squad of Albatross D.V. biplanes. I felt like the Germans would charge at us any minute. Down on no manís land, it was foggy and wet with the smell of smoke in the air. Then fifty Germans soldiers in trench-coats and helmets, sounding courageous and bold, took their sharp, pointed bayonets, and they charged us.

We took aim and fired, but they were still coming. So we had our Lewis gunners and mowed twenty down and the other thirty retreated back to their trench. Our Char D Assault St. Chamond tanks came over a passage that went over our trench and provided cover for eighty of us as we charged the German ranks. As we were getting out of our trenches, German riflemen fired at us, and I could hear the sound of the bullets striking our tanks. We took cover behind our tanks.

We also had enough cover fire from our 75 mm guns and British Handley Page bombers. Once we captured the first German trench, it was on to where the German Commander Baron Danar, a respected German military commander, was. His base was heavily guarded by German sentries with rifles as weapons and it was a big, abandoned mansion in the Argonne Forest. He was in command of 800 infantry soldiers and 70 artillery men. So all of us rushed the sentries and took the outside courtyard with crates of rifles, ammunition, two small cannons, and five military vehicles. There were ten sentries on the top balcony, and they shot at us. Then ten more sentries came out of the big oak corridors.

The gun fight lasted about twenty minutes and five of the sentries were wounded. Then all twenty sentries surrendered. The commander along with some officers came out and surrendered because he knew he could not fight us off.

Another day of fighting is done. The next battle is going to be east from here. Now it is time to return to camp and rest. We will march onward tomorrow to the town of Verdun. I have a feeling of valor from fighting, sorrow about what happened, and worry that my brother and father are still alive. And this bloody war still rages on.

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