Thursday, August 20, 2009

Grandpa and the Sho Sho

My grandfather was a great storyteller. He was in the army in the "Big Red One," the first Big Red One. The one that started in World War One. But when he headed off to war he wasn't sure what he was in. The army was so anxious to get them to the war that they sailed off before they even had uniforms...or weapons. They learned weapons drill on the ship using brooms wearing their civis. Grandpa didn't get a helmet with a red one symbol on it until he got knee deep in the war. And the weapons they had were less than spectacular. The army didn't have a reliable machinegun so they bought some from the French. It wasn't until they started using them that they found out that the French didn't have a reliable machinegun either. Grandpa and his team were given a Chautchat or as they called it a "Sho Sho." (They also called it several other things, none of which should be used in pleasant company.) He said time and time again they would be set up with targets moving into their area. They would strip the guns, make sure they were clean and operating, and then have them jam in the face of the enemy. As soon as the enemy was safely away the guns worked fine. It was amazing but when his unit moved forward every single one of the machinegun teams accidentally forgot to bring their Sho Sho's. In fact he said when they chased the Germans out of a small town they found a neat stack of Sho Sho's that the Germans accidentally forgot to take with them.