The Journal And Confession Of Patrick O’Donnel
Blood, fire and death. The once beautiful place known as Flanders Fields was now blown to hell. The beautiful landscape with green fields and small farmhouses as far as the eye can see, have now been replaced by endless fields of mud, barbed wire, and trenches.
This is not how I imagined the war. All I heard back home in Derry was: ”Join the British Army! For king and Coutry! Glory and honor!” I realized soon after my first engagement with the germans, that this was not the case.
It was the 21st of March when I first saw the horrors of war with my own eyes. First came the artillery. Thousands of shells crashed down upon our lines like God himself were punishing us for something we did not know. After several hours of taking shelter in our foxholes, the bombardment suddenly came to a halt. I ran back to my trench to recieve orders from my commander when the ground started shaking. I ran to my trench where the men already were lined up, firing point blank in to the huge blob of advancing germans. My commander shouted at me:
- O’Donnel! Get in line you miserable irish wanker!
I did as he ordered me to, ignoring the insults of my ethnicity and got in line, firing my rifle until it got overheated.
The time passed by but the germans just came in bigger and bigger waves, It did not seem to matter how many we killed. For every fallen soldier, another one popped up in the back. The ones who were lucky enough to get to our trench in one piece got the honor to get picked off by our commander, Captain Campbell.
Captain Campbell was aslo born in Derry as I was, but he was not of irish descent. His grandfather came from the scottish highlands. His grandfather was apparently the cousin of the Duke of Argyle. He was offered land in Northern Ireland and with no great power in Scotland he considered the offer and moved to Derry. Captain Campbell was raised in a great mansion in the countryside and my father was their gardener. Captain Campbell always hated my father for no apparent reason. My father was good catholic man. He was loyal to the british even though they treated us common irish like filth. My father later died in british prison. He was hanged for treason against the crown on false charges while I, his son was off fighting their war. Even though I hated Campbell, he was my commander and I had to follow my orders and do what was required of me.
After a few hours the offensive came to a halt. The germans were digging a new trench, closer to us. We could see them in the distance, but our accuracy was not precise enough to do the work that was required. Luckily we had a sniper in our regiment, a dear friend of mine. His name was Dougal MacDonald. He was a classmate of mine back in third grade. He was one of the few protestant immigrants who did not treated us catholic irish like pigs and therefor the captain hated him. The captain even called himed hobknocker at times which is old english for a man who shags animals. Why was he called this?, one might ask himself. Well poor Dougal fell in love with a barmaid from Dublin called Sinead. After a while of wooing, they married and shortly after, Sinead was pregnant. The child was born when Dougal was off fighting the war and therefor he never got to see his son grow up and become a man. After the war, he was diagnosed with shell-schock and he never recovered. Dougal later comitted suicide in an insane asylum in 1924. Anyhow, Dougal was our sniper and his orders from the commander was to snipe out the enemy trench diggers with his scoped enfield rifle and so he did. Dougal was the finest marksman in our regiment, I would not even be surprised if he was the best in the whole commonwealth. Even if Dougal picked off a whole dousin of trenchdiggers, new ones just kept coming in to fill the ranks. After 14 hours, the german trench was complete. If this was the place they were going to continue to launch their assult, we would be forced to retreat to the reserve trench where the cowarldy yankees were entrenched.
Suddenly we heard a whistle from the german trench and a thousand blades were flashing in the moonlight. They put on their bayonets and charged us.
- O’Donnel! The captain shouted. Man that Lewis machinegun!
I ran to the machine gun and made it ready for firing. Beside me was my dear friend Dougal, handing me belts of ammunition. When I pulled the trigger, it was like I had opened the gates of hell and I was a great dragon. The bullets was my breath of fire and the germans was the poor villagers, fleeing from a terrible monster. The only diffrence was that this was german soldiers and germans did not run. They kept running and screaming with their bayontes held high. The blood was like a red fountain, the bullets ripped through flesh and bone. There was no stopping me. At the time I did not realize what horrible things I did. At the time, I was even proud and felt like I was powerful. I was judge, jury and executioner. I decided who got to live or die.
Even though we fought bravely, their numbers overwhelmed us. At the end they reached the trench. My commander insisted that we would hold our ground and fight to the death, but I critizied him and called him a madman. That’s when all went down south. Instead of getting his men out of harms way and complete uneccesary slaughter, my commander ordered me to be arrested while his men died for nothing, bleeding to death in the mud and the rain.
I know that my punishment will be just. After all, I killed my commander. I shot him in the back of his head with his own revolver. What can I say? I was in a state of panic and rage. The man who had always bullied my people and my family stood before me and rather fight to the death than save his own men from slaughter and death. I know that for my crimes I must pay, but one thing is sure. On my way to the noose, I will not sing Rule Britannia. I will sing the gaelic war song, Oro Se Do Bheatha Bhaile, to honor my country, my people and my father who now sings with the angels in heaven. May he rest in peace.
Erin Go Bragh
The Journal And Confession Of Patrick O’Donnel