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August, 1916 "Trenches of Hell"

[Depicted in Trenches of Hell, the 8th episode from the Adventures of Young Indiana Jones, produced by George Lucas - released in 1999 - it’s original edit is from The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles; Episode: Somme, Early August 1916 - released in 1992]

  • In August Indiana & Remy endure basic training in Le Havre, France, where Indy also teaches himself how to play the soprano saxophone in his spare time.

  • Their first action with the Belgian Army is in Flanders, where all their commanding officers die on the battlefield thus the remaining soldiers are relocated to Somme, where they are integrated in the French Army.

  • As a corporal, Indiana is the highest ranking member of his unit, though he reports to a recently promoted French lieutenant who is suspicious of mutiny within the troop.

  • In battle, Indiana’s Belgian company leads the French in an effort to recapture the Château de la Maisonnette, yet they are pinned down by machine gun fire that they inevitably subdue with grenades. The battle then continues with hand to hand combat, and ultimately the Belgians are able to force the Germans to retreat.

  • Soon after, the troops are preparing for a second offensive when the Germans attack by using gas, which kills many of Indiana’s comrades including a man who suffers a horrific death right in front of his eyes. The Germans than continue their advance with a flamethrower, which causes the Belgians to retreat and postpone their mission.

  • While on a two day leave, Indiana meets two British lieutenants named Robert Graves and Siegfried Sassoon, with whom he discusses literature with over drinks.

  • Back in the trenches, the Belgians are again overpowered by machine gun fire, when Indiana and his company decide to use an abandoned German tunnel to outflank the enemy. Once through the tunnels they find themselves behind the machine gun nests, which they efficiently take out with more grenades.

  • Soon after, however, the Germans attack once more with far more reinforcements than the Belgians had to defend themselves, and in the process key members of Indiana’s platoon are killed and Remy is injured; while Indiana himself is taken as a Prisoner of War.

  • Thus during his first taste of War Indiana had direct interactions with:

  • Robert Graves - English poet and novelist who produced over 140 works, including Good-Bye To All That, a memoir of his experiences in WWI. At the ‘Battle of Somme’ Graves was badly wounded and expected to die, however he miraculously recovered and went on to become a famous war poet, in addition to writing acclaimed historical novels such as I, Claudius, and King Jesus - along with an extensive study of poetry in The White Goddess - and biography of [Indiana’s friend] T.E. Lawrence in Lawrence and the Arabs.

  • Siegfried Sassoon - English poet, writer, and decorated soldier who was awarded the Military Cross for ‘suicidal acts of bravery’ for the Western Front in WWI. Stories of Sassoon’s exploits are numerous yet highlighted by one where he single handedly captured a German trench by use of grenades. Although he demonstrated ruthless efficiency as a company commander, he suffered from maddening depression due to the horrors of war, which his poetry would later describe in great detail along with his contempt for those who glorified it. In 1917 Sassoon wrote a letter to his commanding officer titled Finished With the War: A Soldier’s Declaration, stating his humanitarian reasons for refusing to return to duty. At risk of being court-martialed for defiance, Sassoon was instead sent to a psychiatric ward, where he met another poet by name of Wilfred Owen - his protege who would die a year later at war, yet would posthumously exceed him in fame.

  • All of which occurs during the:

  • Battle of the Somme - WWI battle between the English & French empires against the German empire, that took place between July and November of 1916 on both sides of the River Somme in France. It was the largest WWI battle on the Western Front, fought by more than 3 million men and taking the lives of a million, making it one of the bloodiest battles in history. This battle is also notable as it was the first to use a tank.

  • The locations of this adventure are as follows:

  • Le Havre - French commune and city in the Normandy region of northwestern France. It’s name in French stands for “the harbour” or “the port,” of which it’s the second largest in France, secondary to Marseille-Fos Port.

  • Flanders - Dutch side of Northern Belgium, which suffered some of the most casualties on the Western Front during WWI.

  • River Somme - Located in Picardy, northern France


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