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[WWII] The Gathering Storm

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April 7, 1939



Meanwhile, somewhere in Massachusetts..

 Sargent O'Conner was sitting at his desk, a mountain of well organized, but incomplete paperwork stacked in front of him.  He heard the guttural roar of an truck outside the office.  "Wonder which one of them that is?  Guess I'll see in the moment."  He paused for a second, and then ground out his cigarette in a large, well used ashtray.  A knock shortly followed.

"Come in!"

 "Corporal Cleary, reporting as ordered... Sargent!"

 O'Conner looked at the newcomer, a young man in a marine uniform, leather rifle case slung over his shoulder and kitbag in one hand.

"Put yer stuff down in the corner and sign in here", the Sargent held out a clipboard with a mostly empty sign up sheet.  As he signed he briefly scanned the other names.  None stood out.

 "It says yer a bugler? You must be a hot s**t sniper for them to send you here!" , the Sargent took the clipboard back and put it aside on his desk. "Hmm, I think we can use you at Reveille though."

"Well you're assigned cabin 14, bunk C. Drop off your stuff there and head over to the quartermaster's depot - two huts to the right of here.  Then get yerself down to the range.  I don't need to tell ya where that is - you'll see it easy enough."  While speaking, the sergeant had taken out a cigarette - a Lucky Strike - and was patting around. A moment later he looked at Tim and asked, "Yah got a light?"

Tim reached into his pocket and produced a package of matches.  The sergeant took one, and light up.  "So, waddya ya standin' around here for? Get movin'"


The Quartermaster, Master Sargent Turnbull, was all business. Fairly old, perhaps in his mid forties, he bore many scars on his hands and face.  He had Corporal Cleary sign out a kitbox full of gear, boots, old WWI style webbing and gear, bedding and various whatnots, including a gas mask. "Keep that one handy." he said with somewhat malicious grin.

Looking at Tim's rifle case he said - "Stow your firearms in the armory - no outside guns in the training area. That includes yer pistol." 


After reporting to the armory and somewhat unhappily storing his rifle in a locker provided for him, he dropped the rest of his gear off in the cabin.  Only a few beds were made, and no other soldiers were present.  Stowing his gear, he made off to his last destination, the range.

As Sargent O'conner had said, the range was easy to find.  The training camp had appeared to have once been a large campground with many little cabins.  The middle area had recently been bulldozed and a simple range and nearby obstacle course created.  The crack of rifle fire echoed out from the range as Tim approached.

He found the range officer, a tall Lieutenant wearing what appeared to be a British style uniform.  Waiting for the firing to stop, Tim approached the officer and saluted.

Accepting his salute, Lieutenant Crandall spoke , "So you would be Corporal Cleary? Great to have you.  Now, please avail yourself of one of those rifles, get it ready, and take your place on the line." Crandall was pointing to a number of rifles laid out on a nearby table.  Tim's heart sank a little when he saw them.  They were all apparently WWI issue Mausers, all encrusted with grime and rust.  Perhaps dug out of some farm field in Flanders perhaps. Tools and cleaning supplies lay nearby.

"Don't tarry too long, Corporal, Tick tock and all that."  Crandall had pulled out a stopwatch and started it.  "Your training and assessment has just started," he said with a grin.

the Wanderer:
“Sir, yes sir” he spoke with just enough force and a quick snap of his hand.
His father would be rolling over in his grave. Being born an American was something he took pride in, but his father was born in Belfast.
“Saluting an English officer, indeed” his father would have said, “after all they done ta the family? You are a right fine son o mine!”

He moved his hands quickly to strip the rifle. Why he was working on an out-dated piece of junk, he had no idea...the effective range on this was half the Springfield, and that was open sighted. This could only be counted on for a bit shy of 900 yards, and that was with a telescopic sight!

“If you don’t mind my asking” he said while slipping the receiver spring upright under his boot heel “What’s the score? Are we using these off the boat rifles permanently?” He took a deep breath, sliding the cleaning rod down the barrel without missing a beat.
”What I mean to say is this antique is hardly a decent substitute for my Springfield. And the state of them...No soap!”

He continued cleaning and checking the rifle, knowing he may well have stepped out of line with his questions. He knew his mouth would get him in trouble someday, and his mother constantly warned him of it in his youth.
He continued to work quickly, being careful no make sure this heap was going to fire effectively when he was through.

Replacing the now tightened firing pin spring and slipping the trigger components into place, he picked up a stripper clip. Snapping it into place, he held the rifle out for inspection.
“If I may speak freely, sir.”

Lt. Crandell waved away the weapon and reached into an ammo box.

"Your springfield is a fine weapon no doubt, and better then these without question, so long as you have the right ammunition, and don't mind being caught with one.  Neither is always true.  We know you can shoot well enough with your weapon - otherwise you would not be here, but that is not good enough.

And yes, you can speak freely. After you take these boxes of ammunition and assess the accuracy of this weapon at the range.  We are all professionals here and I would to love hear what you have to say.

I don't need to inspect the weapon, your score will tell the tale.

Clock is still ticking."

the Wanderer:
“Well, if freely is the way, I hear the Spitzer rounds are hot stuff. Besides, if I have to use a short sling, I might as well use a big rock, savvy?” he grinned. With the limited range, he wanted maximum firepower from this relic.
"Why, how careless of me!", said the 'lootenant' with mock horror as he handed over a box of the correct round type.  "However, you might want to fire them all off, just so you a get a feel for them. "

Timothy took the proffered ammo and fed a clip into the rifle.
He raised the rifle and scanned the range. Choosing a solid target he said quietly “Zero one” and fired. He slammed the bolt back, forward again and counted to three.
“Zero two” his voice barely above a whisper. A single fluid movement ejected the spent shell and loaded the third into the chamber.
“Zero three” his voice even and barely audible. By the time the shell casing hit the ground he was adjusting his sights.

He aimed at an unused man-shaped target this time.
“Clear left....clear right....firing!” he barked. He fired, round after round in quick succession at the “head” of the target.
He dropped the stripper casing and took a knee while loading the next. He unloaded the rounds into the “chest” this time, his breath even and eyes trained.
He laid down on his back, loading a third clip into the rifle. Rolling to his stomach, he fired off the rounds at a row of targets, one bullet each.

He stood up while dropping the spent clip on the ground and snapping back the bolt.
“I coulda’ taken and extra three to zero, but I think it’s pretty on...”

Somewhere Accross the Atlantic...

"Why would the Great Leader ask for such a thing?  Removing that many torpedo tubes would leave it virtually toothless!"

"Never question the Leader's widom, my friend.  It is most unhealthy.  Be happy he is asking now, rather then closer to the planned date."

"I know, but to sacrifice that much armament for accomodations?  It is most unseemly to do that to a vessel!"

"You do have your orders. I expect for you to carry this out to your utmost.  You may leave."

Meanwhile, back at the range...

Tim had spent the afternoon cleaning, stripping, assembling and firing a wide variety of arms, from antique mausers, Soviet Mosin-Nagant, and various, more exotic firearms, including the Japanese Type 38 Arisaka.  All were in deplorable condition.

However, his shooting had still been exceptional and he had the impression that the officer had been duely impressed by his performance.

"Right then, you're finished here for today.  You can go back to your cabin to get settled in.  Mess is in the main building over there," Lt Cradell said, pointing at a large, two story building back near the cabins.  "Mind throwing those rifles into the mud pit over there? Thats good man."


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