Charge is never happier then when charging the enemy army, weapon in hand, and is an excellent junior officer. His men admire his bravery, and more then one of them are only alive because their officer went into the thick of the danger zone to bring them out. He has three medals for bravery, all of them genuinely earned, and there is talk in the General Staff of further promotion for him. This, however, may turn out to be a mistake, as he cannot properly give orders when personally engaged in combat, and the very qualities that make him such a good major might make him a dreadful general.
Nicknamed behind his back “The Sergeant” by his men, he is almost universally despised by them because of the way he treats them. He regularly shouts and screams at them for minor offences, micro-manages his platoon and does not hesitate to dish out punishments. There are several men in his platoon who would happily murder him if they could get away with it, and as the regiment is due to be shipped out to a war zone in the future, they may well get their chance. Hard Ass thinks he is treating the men in this way “for their own good” and is blissfully unaware of just how unpopular he has become.
Whilst Hard Ass goes out of his way to treat the men like scum, Mr Friendly goes too far out of his way to treat the men as equals, talking with them, sitting down and eating with them, playing cards with them, and ordering the NCOs not to treat them too unpleasantly. This has made him a popular officer; indeed most of his men would gladly risk their lives to help him out of danger. But it has come at a cost; his unit has become slack. Slack in drill, slack in discipline, and slack in their way of dress. The senior officers, should they visit his platoon unexpectedly, would be shocked at how slack everything has become.
To Snob, the enlisted men are simply too low for him to notice properly. He is supposed to check once a day that they are healthy, and that they have a place to sleep for the night when on campaign. He does not bother to do this and as a result, a third of his men are on the sick list, too ill to fight or march properly, and the morale of the platoon he commands has been much reduced. Nor does he think much of his junior officers, snubbing them in the officer’s mess, as he thinks they are poorer and thus lesser men then he. His only close friend in his regiment is Ching Ching, who he sucks up to because of Ching Ching’s riches.
Mr Average. He is not too friendly with his men, nor a discipline freak. He is not a coward but he knows when it would be downright foolhardy to advance. The sort of officer that every army in every time period has.
Grass has a big secret that could get him executed, or at least given a dishonourable discharge and a long spell in military prison. He is a paid spy for another country, and for a long time has been feeding them highly important and classified military information. As a result, many men have lost their lives in battle and many of his own countries spies have been caught and hanged or turned into double agents. Grass does not care; nor does he do what he does from idealism. The only thing that Grass truly cares about is how much money he makes from the secrets he passes on. If there is a hell, his soul will end up there.
A hive of activity, Busybody works his underlings hard and himself harder, getting only six hours of sleep a night and doing well despite that. Unlike most army officers, who are rigidly conservative, he is always open to new tactics and weapons providing he thinks they will work. This has mildly annoyed his senior officers, who are starting to get fed up with his advice. The platoon he commands has some of the best weapons in the army; the only better armed soldiers are those in the Special Forces division. Some Special Forces officers like him and think he should be transferred to a position in their unit.
Ranker is one of the very few officers who joined the army as a basic private instead of through an Officer Cadet School or Military Academy. A very good soldier, he was promoted to corporal within a couple of years and swiftly climbed the NCO promotion ladder. He would not normally have been able to get any further, but then a long and bloody war broke out, in which many officers died in battle. He was promoted to fill one of the gaps. Many of his fellow officers shun him in the officer’s mess and have nothing to do with him when off duty, as they feel he is “not one of them” and is only fit to clean their boots.
Posted to a far away place on the edges of the Empire, in a small fort miles from anywhere where life even for the officers is deathly dull, Mr Melancholy is homesick. He misses his family and his fiancée, who he fears has dumped him and married another man by now. When on the parade ground or otherwise doing his duties he manages to hide his sadness from everybody, but when alone he often cries in his room and has more then once thought of committing suicide. He has not done so far because of what his family and society would think of him, but were his unit to be in a battle, he would be in the front line…without wearing his breastplate.
Ching Ching got his nickname because of his money, of which he has a lot. He was the man to invent barbed wire, and made a fortune because of all the people who wanted to buy it. With a smallish part of the money he made, he brought himself the rank of Colonel in one of the army’s most exclusive regiments, as well as fine new uniforms and weapons for his men. Snob and Pompous are his close friends, whilst he despises Ranker and would throw him out of the army if he could. His ambitions are two, to make as much money as he can, and to become a Field Marshal and so command the entire army.
The son of a general, many of his fellow officers suspect that his rapid promotion was because of nepotism and not because of his abilities as an officer. He hotly denies this and has fought and won at least one duel of honour because of it. But at a cost, he now has a scar on his cheek because of a wound he got during the duel. He is determined to prove to his fellow officers, if they will only give him a chance to do so, that he is here on merit and not because of who he is. Because of this he has taken stupid risks on occasion, and has earned the firm friendship of Charge, who sees him as a kindred spirit.
12-Not One Of Us
Perhaps it was because his fellow officers thought he came from the wrong family, went to the wrong school, chose not to play rugby like they did, but he has been ostracised. It’s not that he did anything wrong, it’s just that most of the other officers think that he is just not one of them. Ching Ching likes to show him up, even in public in front of the men. His only close friend is Ranker, who is also an outcast because of his family background. He has little or no faith in his other fellow officers to back him up in a battle situation, thinking rightly or wrongly that they would prefer to leave him to die.
Pompous despises his men, and the words spoken by them behind his back are anything but nice. But he also despises any officer of junior rank then him and even some officers of the same rank, looking down his long nose at them. His friends are Snob and Ching Ching, the rest of his fellow officers either dislike him because of the airs he puts on, or they hate him as much as his men. His men hate him because of the many often brutal punishments that he has ordered for minor breaches of military discipline. To be fair, in a battle or a dangerous situation he is no coward and can fight as well as anyone.
Whilst many army officers look down on or frankly despise their men, Hangman seems to hate them as much as the enemy, and wangled a place on a court martial tribunal just so that he could sentence soldiers to death. Not content with that, he likes to be there when a hanging is taking place, be it of a spy, a deserter, a murderer or anyone else convicted of a death penalty offence, and it is rumoured that he carried out at least one hanging personally. When he is unable to sentence anybody to death in a war situation, he likes to send his men into costly human wave attacks, or deadly missions from which they might not return.
Whilst Glory Hunter does not degrade the NCOs and men underneath him, he is very unpopular with them for a different reason. He likes to lead them on dangerous missions, and whilst unlike Hangman he shares the danger and they grudgingly respect him for that, they still want a quiet and safe life. A few of them are furious at him for getting them endangered for the sake of his own personal glory. Not only that, but they are seriously considering trying to murder him as he sleeps in his tent. Glory Hunter meanwhile is totally convinced that the war he is in his just, and is blissfully aware of what his men think of him.
Fragged was an officer of the Glory Hunter type. He earned five medals, saved the life of his commanding officer in battle, and was promoted from second lieutenant to major within a few years. He also drove his men as hard as he drove himself, but at first they didn’t mind that. Trouble flared up when he found himself engaged in a long grinding war with no end in sight. The men started to hate him for, as they saw it, needlessly endangering their lives, and one night someone threw a grenade into his tent. He survived, but lost an eye and the entire right side of his face was burnt and scarred.
As in “politically correct”, PC is never heard to utter a racist word and sticks to the laws of war to the letter, and he expects those under his command to do so too. With the result that his NCOs tend to deliberately falsify the reports that they send him. He is convinced of the great value of winning “hearts and minds” and to be fair, he does have a point. But sometimes he goes too far and is unwilling to do the harsh things that can be necessary to pacify a troublesome town. Hearts and minds are all very well, but sometimes nothing short of death squads can get an area infested by partisans under control.
His uniform is not clean, his shirt is untucked, his boots are dirty, and if he were a private instead of an officer commanding a platoon he would be in the guardhouse and/or undergoing punishment more often then not. Despite the best efforts of his NCOs, at least some of his laziness has passed itself down to his men. His camp is not policed properly and dangerous levels of dirt have built up, to the point that an epidemic of disease is threatening the entire army corps. The only time he has to smarten himself up and make an effort to look good is when one of the senior officers makes a rare visit of inspection.
Undercover as a captain, he is horrified by some of what he has witnessed. Officers who are lazy, fraternize with their men or punish them too much, dirty rifles, fouled company streets, talking after taps, sleeping sentries…a large part of the army is clearly in a mess. To be fair, he has seen good things as well…good officers and NCOs who care about their men, men who are proud to do their duty and avoid trouble, and good food for the men. But he has seen so many failures, that a lot of people are going to get into trouble with the top brass when his report finally reaches Headquarters.
Whilst most soldiers have no love for their enemy, Hatred’s hate for them burns deep in his soul. It started when a close friend of his died in battle, and intensified when he was injured by a sniper and came within a whisker of having to have an arm amputated as a result. Then he and his men liberated a POW camp that had been allowed by the guards to degenerate to hellhole status, causing a large number of prisoners to slowly die of sickness in their own filth. Now he accepts no quarter in battle, and cannot be trusted by the higher-ups to guard prisoners in case something fatal happens to them.
A close friend of Hatred, Master Race also passionately hates the enemy, but largely because their skin colour is different to his. He wishes that it was still allowed to enslave POWs as it was in the old days of yore, and is utterly ruthless with captured partisans, ordering his men to hack off their hands and then treat their wounds, so that instead of dying rapidly of loss of blood, they are condemned to spend the rest of their lives as helpless beggars. As a direct result, those fighting the men of his platoon are hugely reluctant to surrender, and not only that, his unit has been unable to gather any tip-offs due to the way they act.
As in trustworthy, both his fellow officers and his men know that when he promises something, he sticks to it. If he tells his men they will be rewarded if they carry out orders he means it. If he tells them that they will be punished for misbehaviour he also means it. Also, he never sends them to do something that he would not do himself, and they like and respect him for it. His fellow officers of all ranks like him as well as they know that when he is told to get things done he does it. In fact, they like him so much that they have put him on a fast track to being promoted, and he won’t stay a captain for long.
Having broken a rib in a battle, he was sent back to the Headquarters as soon as he had partly recovered and put in charge of a desk and a large amount of paperwork. However, this was not what he joined the army for; when he was at army cadet school he chose to be one of those who fought on the front lines, not a pencil-pusher. Now he has become bogged down and is managing by mistake to send the wrong things to the wrong places; soldiers that need bullets are getting crates of biscuits and vice versa, which is damaging army morale and endangering lives. He does not mean to do such things, but is unable to cope with the paperwork.
His boots are shining as well as any parade-ground private’s, and his uniform is pressed and clean even when on an exercise. Moreover, his morals are as clean as his uniform, and like PC he would never maltreat POWs or force himself on women. He is one of those officers who is firm but fair and sets a good example to the men. This has not gone unnoticed by higher authority and he can look forward to being promoted, as long as he does not commit some giant faux pas. He is close friends with Charge, despises Snob, thinks Hard Ass is a bit over the top and that Mr Friendly has let discipline go to hell in a hand basket.
Coward never wanted to join the army; he only did it because as far back as he could remember, the men of his family had enlisted as officers. He is a coward with a great fear of a violent death in battle, and starts to shake with fear when on the battlefield. So far he has been able to avoid battle by wangling a good job in the Headquarters Staff, but when the injured Bogged Down was sent to do his job until he recovered, Coward found himself reassigned to the place he most dreaded, the front line. So far he has been able to put on a front of bravery, but he is wondering if he will be able to do his duty in battle.
Baggage is a brave man and a fine officer, who has survived three battles and a rout (the latter not in any way caused by him) and has risen in his forty years of devoted service to the rank of Brigadier-General. Which is where the problem has started. Whilst privates and NCOs are allowed only essential items, and most officers only a little more, generals are allowed as much baggage as they want. And Baggage certainly takes advantage of this, lugging along on campaign such items as a gramophone, several different types of clothing, and even a large bed. He needs a small supply train of his own to carry all his stuff.
What is an officer commanding a battery of artillery, and has served with it in combat more then once, with the result that the noise of the guns as they are fired has led to partial deafness. As a result, shouting is like normal talking to him. Some of his fellow officers sympathise with him, seeing his deafness as a war wound, others think it was self-inflicted and his own fault, and are highly irritated by him. He does not want to leave the army as he enjoys it, but moves are afoot by Ching Ching, Snob and Pompous to have him forcibly discharged on medical grounds due to acute hearing loss.
An I-love-life sort of person, Joker delights in playing pranks on officers junior in rank to him, and even to some officers of the same rank. He has put boot polish on binoculars, rocks in backpacks, dirt in sleeping bags and itching powder in underpants, the latter just before an important military parade. He knows his limits; highly dangerous jokes and pranking senior officers are a firm no-no, and when the army is on a formal campaign, the jokes have to stop. He does not prank his men either, considering that their life is hard enough being bawled at by the NCOs all day without him making it even worse.
Sporty, when not on duty in the front line, loves sport, be it rugby, football, swimming, jogging, or several others. Whilst most people in battle would fear most would be being killed, what he fears most is being paralysed, to the point that he has asked his fellow officers to give him the coup de grace if that happens to him. He is one of the most muscular officers in the army and proud of his sporting achievements, and one or two of his fellow officers are jealous of him. He joined the army partly because of the long five-mile runs.
Grumpy is one of those people who is bad tempered about seemingly everything; in his mind, the men are lazy, the junior officers like himself a pain to be around, and the senior officers ignorant. He and Joker once nearly came to blows once in the officer’s mess, and their fellow officers had to pull them apart. His temper makes him a good fighter in battle, as he more or less goes berserk; but his men fear him and noone amongst his fellow officers wants to share a tent with him.