Hermes' Wings

History, Writing and Personal Musings

The Great War – A Novella and Artwork

The Executioner’s Drag | PDF | 50 Pages

When Lt. James Sheffield is posted to the Western Front in the spring of 1918 as a replacement pilot, the war resembles a romantic adventure, a manufactured feat of arms to decide the best nation in Europe, if not the world. His squadron commander is a hardened ace, Major “Manny” Edwards, VC, whose skill in the air is eclipsed only by his hatred of the enemy. With knowing how or why, Sheffield finds himself being taken into the Major’s confidence, and in the process finds himself being drawn to this brilliant, cryptic officer who seemingly holds an answer to the riddle of man’s transformation in war.

The story was originally written in 2006, after a contemplation on the execution of warfare on the human spirit. At the time, I attempted to have it published at only one place, The New Yorker, and aside from this, it largely sat unused in the coffers of my storage drive. Returning to it recently I was fascinated to observe its great flaws in narrative and structure. Faced with some major editing, I instead re-wrote a portion of the story and have decided to offer it here first.

The Executioner’s Drag

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Two Sopwith Camels over the frontline, 1918.

A Camel squadron’s airbase. This, I imagined was the how the dispersal looked in the novella above.

DISCLAIMER: I hate World War I with a passion. But I believe its many stories of heroism and tragedy shouldn’t be forgotten.

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