Gunning the Saturday away – part 2

Simon got the honour of resupplying the gunners’ bags. I had to get more powder, as we more or less had run out. We were fit for the evenings fight, and waited, while we fortified our position behind the pavise by forcing stakes into the ground. The deal was, that we were going to start fighting along the spearmen in Carnis’ unit – a group armed with spears and other pole arms, supported by some cap-à-pie-knights. The captains’ meeting had confirmed our grim expectations – we were going to fight the Poles. Again. Everyone was put down in a way, but they also wanted satisfaction from last year. The mood was strangely mixed.

We marched into the field as darkness had settled, and witnessed a quite cool display, when soldiers burned an oupost belonging to the enemy. We left our guns and gunnery equipment with a guard in the gunnery position, and went to join the spears of Carnis.

Drums rolled. The Poles were advancing right towards us in a disturbing pace. Above us the sound of flying arrows could be heard, as our strong archers unit let loose of their flowers of war. Then, suddenly, a unit started to advance diagonally across the field. It were the English. Good old Company of Chivalry! They steered in front of the Polish, and marched at us. The Polish stopped, and turned to engage some unlucky Italians. They left us with the boys of merry England.

We advanced to meet them. Me and Johan held the unit’s right flank, armed with sword and shield. And then the bills fell into the line with a crash. The English are hard fighters, but most of them still think it’s good fun. That’s why you can almost endure a heavy bill hitting you in the head. The fight was on. It was an inferno of thrusting spears and glinting swords, of screaming and clattering, of fear and dark joy. As usual, I don’t remember much of the fights. You are so focused on details that you forget the whole picture.

The battle was drawing near its end, and the gunners left the line, as decided before hand – we were going to cover the withdrawal of our forces with gun fire. And we did. Orders were shouted, priming powder was ignited. The muzzle flashes and the bangs filled the night, as the crowd cried in terror with each shot fired. We felt grim and mighty, and actually we were more gunners than usual; a handful of Italian colleagues had joined up, and fired happily shot after shot. In the wet grass, they stinging grey smoke lingered. The smell was strong. It looked awesome.

It was about then it happened. We heard muffled screams in the direction of Carnis’ unit, and Dr Bob ran towards the spot. I don’t know what happened in detail, but I do know that one of our German friends had an Italian spear in his eye. Dr Bob joined him in the ambulance for Abbiategrasso hospital. He returned much later in the night, and told us the unlucky German would probably be alright, even if nothing was certain (today he is more or less fully restored, and he will keep his eye sight as far as I know).

You always take a risk when fighting in the field. You always get bruised, and you always burn your hands when meddling with gun powder. It’s not a children’s game, even if it’s not for real. People do get hurt – they even die, although very seldom. I guess nobody wants to think of it, and to tell the truth the injuries are kind of few, if you regard how many are involved in this hobby, and the violent nature of it. I have myself been close to serious injury when one of the guns exploded and I had a piece of shrapnel in my chin. It came out after some weeks and an operation. I will always have a noteable scar in my face, but in a strange way, I feel kind of proud of it. I just sincerely hope next explosion won’t get my eye or any of my arterys.

And then – as usual – it was time for food and drink. We ended up in our camp, really late, where I swearing and cursing lost game after game of the dice game Glückenhaus. I swear Hannah must have cheated! Four twelves in a row? Impossible!

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