"The Incredible Moving Hole."
Lynn (1932-2001), had a long career in the Marine Corps, ultimately rising from
teenaged enlisted man to major, while earning a Purple Heart during the long
walk out from the Chosen Reservoir. In
the course of that career he had many adventures, one of which we noted here
some time ago (see, "The Platoon
Sergeant and the 'Baby-Faced' Lieutenant").
amusing tale of his time in uniform that Chet relished telling was that of the
"Incredible Moving Hole," which happened during the Korean War.
seems that Chet's platoon sergeant had a rather luxurious mustache, of which he
was immensely proud. Naturally, he kept it
carefully trimmed and waxed. One day,
the sergeant left his mustache wax unattended.
Seeing it, Chet got an inspiration.
He carefully replaced some of the wax with Cosmoline. The sergeant didn't notice this. And next time the Sergeant leaned over a
fire, his mustaches frizzled!
sergeant managed to determine responsibility with surprising accuracy, and
developed an innovative punishment for the erring private. He assigned Chet the task of digging a very
large hole of certain specific dimensions using only his entrenching tool. Whenever Chet had nothing else to do, such as
going on patrol or other required duties, he had to work on the hole.
shortly after Chet was given this punishment, his unit had to move. And it continued to move. To make sure Chet completed his task, the
Sergeant came up with an elegant solution.
He calculated what part of the job Chet had completed, and then every
time the unit halted, Chet would resume digging. The Sergeant would add whatever amount of
earth Chet had dug out during each stay to the total that the erring private
had already moved. Eventually the
Sergeant determined that Chet had completed his task, and informed him that his
"sentence" had been completed.
would later recall that despite the hard work, in the cold of a Korean winter,
every time he recalled the look on the Sergeant's face when his cherished mustache
went up in flames, he decided that having to dig what he called "The
Incredible Moving Hole" had been worth it..
--Courtesy of Chet's sometime
Susan Shwartz, Bill Gross, & Bill Seney
Bayard vs. the Landsknechts
LeVieux, the seigneur de Bayard (1473-1524), was one of the most notable
men-at-arms of the age, widely known as "le chevalier sans peur
et sans reproche -- the knight without fear and beyond reproach." Naturally, he was involved in many a daring
escapade, and had numerous brushes with death.
On such occurred during the French campaign in Navarre, in
Bayard's mission was to seize the castle of Tiebas,
which covered the approaches to Pamplona
from the south, the direction from which a Spanish army would have to
come. The well-built castle was held by
about 100 Spanish troops, adequate for the task given the excellent
defenses. Bayard commanded two
"companies" of men-at-arms, about 600 troops, with a battalion of 500
or so French infantry, and another of 800 German landsknechts, pikemen on the Swiss model, plus four siege
Summoned to surrender after Bayard and his little army
camped outside the castle, the garrison quite properly refused. Bayard had his siege guns emplaced and
commenced a bombardment. After a few
days, a breach was created, and Bayard ordered a general assault.
The commander of the landsknechts
demurred, unless the men were given double pay for the month, "according
to custom." Although he had never
heard of this "custom," Bayard assented, saying he would pay the
troops after the castle had been taken.
The German again demurred, demanding payment in advance. Unable to comply, Bayard decided to make the
attempt using just his French troops.
The first assault proved fruitless, and the troops fell
back. The siege guns resumed their work
for a time. Then, while the French
infantry essayed an attack against the breach, thus drawing the attention of
the defenders, some dismounted men-at-arms assaulted the castle on the opposite
side, scramble up scaling ladders, and soon overwhelmed the defenders.
Shortly after Bayard's French troops had secured Tiebas, the
German commander approached him and demanded the double-pay that had been
promised. Since the German troops had
done nothing to effect the capture of the castle, Bayard flew into a rage,
comparing the landsknechts unfavorably
to a troop of whores and threatening to hang the lot of them. The Germans began brandishing their weapons
and forming into ranks, but Bayard promptly had his trumpeter call the rest of
his troops to order -- for a short time French and German troops confronted
each other, until the latter calmed down.
That evening, Bayard was dining in a tent with some other
French commanders when a drunken landsknecht
entered. The man bellowed that he
intended to kill Bayard for failing to keep his promise to issue double
pay. Bayard rose, sword in hand, but
with calming words on his lips, and then offered the German a mug of wine.
Thereafter, whenever any of his comrades subjected Bayard to
criticism, the landsknecht would
defend him as a man of honor, and one who served excellent wine.
The best biography of Bayard remains The Chevalier Bayard: A Study In Fading Chivalry
by Samuel Shellabarger, originally published in 1928 and reissued
several times since. Shellabarger, a
distinguished professor of literature at Princeton,
was also the author of a number of noted historical novels, several of which
were made into motion pictures, such as Prince
of Foxes and Captain from Castile.