A Merry Christmas Mr Hemingway

Steve Newman Writer
12 min readDec 21, 2021

A Short Story

Image: American Courts and the National Archives

The snow lay deep and crisp and even. In fact it wasn’t that deep, or crisp, and after the morning’s shelling by a couple of German 88s it was very uneven indeed, and in places, many places, still crimson from the battering the US 4th Infantry Division had been taking over the last few days.

But at least I’m still alive, thought a shivering, exhausted Private Ernie Miller, even if I’m freezing to death in this cesspit of a foxhole that any self-respecting fox would have given up years ago. But Captain Cotton says it’ll soon be Christmas, so things can’t get much worse can they?

They got much worse almost immediately when those same two 88s, plus a couple of their Krupp kameraden, opened up with an accuracy that Ernie had to admit was pretty good, for Krauts. Several shells landed within a few feet of his foxhole as dozens of others in the forest took direct

hits. Trees were split in half, or completely uprooted in the ferocity of the barrage, and the screams of Ernie’s fellow infantrymen echoed backward and forward in those dreadful branch cracking moments after an attack.

And then the urgent, desperate.

“ Medic! Medic! “

Ernie thought about taking another look over the top of his foxhole but decided against it knowing what a jagged piece of red hot shrapnel could do to a guy’s head. Take it off is what, as corporal Reuben Hughes (and what sort of name was that to give a child?) found out earlier when he

stuck his stupid head up for a look see that was his last look see of 1944, and his last look see anywhere, ever.

The headless Reuben was now sitting crumpled at the bottom of the foxhole with his helmeted Kentucky coal mining head looking upward through the pine cones toward the grey snow-filled sky.

Stay put, Ernie, and let the Krauts throw junk. Stay put.

“ Stay put, Ernie, don’t move, son, I’ll get to you.”

Ernie wasn’t so sure his old man could get to him, not with the water rising as fast as it was, but he did what he was told and hung on to the tree as his father, with a rope tied around his waist, with the other end held securely by Sheriff Johnson (who must have weighed…

Steve Newman Writer

Playwright and Freelance Writer…