The Nevsky Wall
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Chapter 5   -  The Luga Line

All the work was done by hand. At the widening edge of the trench, teams with long crowbar-like tools broke up the hard clay soil. The embankment side was tiered, with a row of workers on each – dirt was heaved from tier to tier, bottom to top, and so the trench deepened as the embankment grew. A damp smell of peat, an earthy decay, that rose from the exposed layers at the bottom of the trench attracted swarms of black flies to torment the workers. Beyond the rhythm of the digging and the shouts of the officers, Alex could hear the low hum of a thousand conversations as the women shared their stories with one another.

“Can you direct me to the man in charge,” he asked of the first uniform he could find. The soldier pointed to a grey-bearded major taking shelter from the noonday sun under a makeshift awning.

Alex presented his credentials and explained the assignment. “Very simple. I’ll shoot a few minutes of film, gather some information, and I’ll be gone inside the hour.” The major studied him and his papers cautiously. Alex understood that an officer of his age, having survived the many purges within the corps, would not be rash in his judgement. He would carefully weigh the risks and benefits of cooperation. Caution was the watchword. His caution had him minding trenches and not charging headlong into the Wehrmacht.

“And of course as the commander, I can include you in the footage,” Alex said to ingratiate himself. The major returned the papers to him. “That will not be necessary. You’ll have as much access as you need. My lieutenant will accompany you.” He pointed to an uncomfortable-looking soldier standing just outside the awning and returned to his chair.

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Chapter 5   -  The Luga Line

3 Responses to “Chapter 5”

  1. G Garcia says:

    “Did you know that I can fire a rifle as well as anyone!””

    My kind of girl.

  2. G Garcia says:

    Powerful. I’M HOOKED.

    Now I am late to work. Damn you.

    So many beautifully written passages to swirl about, making your writing a pleasure to read, because these things I genuinely feel. To quote a few:

    “truth to her, was a performance”

    “But the dread of waiting and the lack of positive news was a disease eating away at the city. The central apparatus of morale, which had sprung into full action in those early days, required heroes. *** And if they could not be found, they would be created.**** ”

    “newsreels were a magic show pitched at the common man”

    “The audience needs to see faces that remind them of themselves.”

  3. Rosli says:

    Hi pip,i love your photos.i raced the SJS this wekeend in Gunnedah. i came 3rd in the swim . 5th on the bike and had a really bad run! i am racing again next wekeend.i miss you guys hi uncle justin. good luck in your next race!i also loved your youtube video.lots of love baixxx

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