Walking Out of War
by Scott Bury
The third volume of Scott Bury’s trilogy of the World War 2 experiences of a Canadian drafted into the Red Army will be published in February 2017. Here’s a sneak peek.
Most of the new recruits were very young, the last remaining boys from the farms and villages across Ukraine, those unlucky enough to reach their seventeenth birthdays before the war ended.
Not all were young, though. Old Stepan was in his forties, and Maurice wondered sometimes if Stepan’s story wasn’t similar to his own. But Stepan obviously had no experience with weapons or army life, and could not keep up with boys half his age.
One very hot day, the sergeant assigned Maurice, Stepan and eight young boys to pull an obsolete, heavy cannon up a hill. They knew better by this time than to grumble. Four boys put leather straps over their shoulders and pulled; Maurice and another got behind to push, leaving Stepan and the remaining boys to pull a wagon of ammunition. With the sun beating down on them and the humidity making every breath a chore, they hauled the massive gun across a muddy field to the bottom of the hill. The wheels squeaked and stuck, then sank into the mud.
“Get moving, you lazy buggers!” the sergeant yelled. “You think Fritz is going to wait for you to get your lazy asses moving? You’d all be dead a hundred times over by now on the battlefield!”
Maurice wondered if the sergeant had ever been to the battlefield, and decided that, in all likelihood, he had. There was almost no one left in Ukraine or Russia now who hadn’t been scarred in some way.
So they pushed and pulled the gun across the mud, trying as much as possible to stay on grass so the wheels wouldn’t sink so much into the ground. The sergeant had chosen their route to be as difficult as possible.
Halfway up the hill, the wheels stopped turning. The boys paused barely long enough to determine that the cause was too much mud caked around the axles before the sergeant was screaming at them again to keep moving. “The Germans aren’t so polite they’ll let you clean up! Your comrades are dying on top of that hill unless you get that gun up there! Get moving, you little girls!” Pushing the cannon became dragging the cannon.
It was nearly noon by the time they got the gun to the top of the low hill. Their uniforms were soaked and caked with dust. All the boys fell onto the ground, exhausted.
“Get up!” said the sergeant. The heat was getting to him, too: his shirt was wet with sweat and he wasn’t raising his voice anymore. “The Germans have retreated. Take this gun back to the base.”
The boys couldn’t help groaning, but the sergeant let that pass. They all stood up wearily and picked up the straps. Only Stepan stayed on the ground.
“Won’t you join us, comrade?” the sergeant sneered.
“I can’t,” Stepan puffed. “I’m worn out.”
The sergeant pulled his pistol from its holster. “Get up, or I’ll shoot you right now!”
Eyes wide, Stepan got up, picked up a box of ammunition and led the troop down the hill.
What it’s about
Canada-born Maurice Bury fought against the Germans invading Ukraine during Operation Barbarossa in 1941. Captured and starved, he escaped a German POW camp with the 11 men under his command. He fought in the underground resistance against German occupation for three hellish years. And now he’s back in the Red Army, which is soaking the soil of the Eastern Front in German and their own blood all the way to Berlin.
Maurice is determined to get back to Canada. But to do that, he not only has to survive the ferocity of the reluctantly retreating Germans, he also has to get away from the Communists. For if they learn his secret, they’ll kill him, too.
Launches February 22 on Amazon.
About the author
Scott Bury can’t stay in one genre. After a 20-year career in journalism, he turned to writing fiction. “Sam, the Strawb Part,” a children’s story, came out in 2011. Next was a paranormal short story for grown-ups, “Dark Clouds.”
The Bones of the Earth, a historical fantasy, came out in 2012. It was followed in 2013 with One Shade of Red, an erotic romance.
He has written in the Lei Crime (Torn Roots, Palm Trees & Snowflakes, Dead Man Lying), Jet (Jet: Stealth) and Sydney Rye (The Wife Line) Kindle Worlds.
His military memoir trilogy includes Army of Worn Soles and Under the Nazi Heel. Walking Out of War will be published in February 2017.
He lives in Ottawa, Canada with two sons, two cats and a loving wife who puts up with a lot.
And follow him on Twitter @ScottTheWriter.