Changing sides

Nationalists soldiers
Nationalists troops.

About seven o’clock on a clear moonlit evening, three of us prepared to desert. I took two hand-grenades for reassurance although I had no intention of using them, but before I could slip out of my trench, my two companions jumped clumsily out of theirs and started a landslide of small pebbles which clattered as they rolled down the rocky hillside. A sentry heard the noise and raised the alarm.

I hesitated for a moment and then started off, hotly pursued by a patrol. In no time I had completely lost my sense of direction, but I carried on and began to climb up the hill. Unfortunately, I was climbing up the very hill I had just come down, straight back into my own lines.

When I realized my error, I turned and raced back down the hill again, dodging the burst of gunfire; taking huge strides, half sliding, half leaping, I soon reached the bottom where I went to ground in a reed bed. I could hear the voices of the patrol hunting for me.

After about fifteen minutes, I heard them change direction, so I crept out of the reeds as quietly as I could and dashed up the hill.

I found a shallow ditch and slid in, covering myself over with leaves and twigs. I could have thrown my two hand-grenades at the Republican patrol, but my conscience held my back. There were six of them and were so close.

As soon as I heard the Nationalists start their customary evening banter, “Hey Reds, what’ve they given you to eat today?”, I decided to move using their voices as a guide. I took off my boots, so as to get a better grip on the slippery gravel slope, and left them and my hand-grenades in the ditch.

Slowly, I began to clamber up the hill. Suddenly I heard voices very close. I got such a fright, I must have passed out. “Don’t worry now, lad. We are coming for you”.

Recovering, I raced to the top where I found my two companion escapers.