Home Screenwriting Products Screenwriter Community Screenwriting Store
ScriptBuddy - Screenwriting Software for the Web

Screenwriter Community

Back to List of Published Screenplays
View/Leave Feedback

Shot at Dawn
by Terry Walker (terryewalker@btopenworld.com)

Rated: PG   Genre: War Movies   User Review: **1/2
A young British soldier Eddie Rusling, assigned to a firing squad is shocked to see his best friend William Billingham at the other end of his rifle. As he contemplates pulling the trigger, he reflects on the events that led to this moment which he could have prevented.

This screenplay is copyrighted to its author. All rights reserved. This screenplay may not be used or reproduced without the express written permission of the author.



A squad of ten soldiers stand with their backs too attention
along a white line, drawn five feet from a wooden post and
chair. A white wall riddled with bullet holes. Rifles on the
floor behind them.
A Regimental SERGEANT MAJOR, 40's, tough in demeanour and
appearance, marches up and down the line of men. Followed by
a Sergeant who hands out tots of whisky.

Among them, EDDIE RUSLING, 17, with a shock of red hair and
masses of freckles, is visible nervous as he stands too
attention. He twitches as the Sergeant Major bellows out.
Eddie takes the whisky, knocks in back in one.
                       SERGEANT MAJOR
Stand still! Hundreds from this
battalion have lost their lives
over the last few months... all
for king and country in the face
of the enemy. BUT!
Sergeant Major stops at Eddie and stares him down.
                       SERGEANT MAJOR (CONT'D)
The army cannot afford to carry
cowards, any more then it can
allow traitors.
He heads to a table nearby, takes ten bullets five blank and
five live rounds then marches down the line. Picking each
rifle up, and placing a bullet in each rifle.
Eddie stares ahead. Sweat drips down his face and onto his
WILLIAM BILLINGHAM 17, sits on a wooden bed with his head
bent shivering, overwhelmed by fever. His hands tremble out
of control his foot taps on the floor. Feet shackle.
Sun light beams brightly through the cell window onto the
whitewashed walls.


A parson stands next to him. Bible in hand reading.
Father, we ask you to bless those
we love and from whom we are
separated. At all times keep us
true to them and them to us and
grant that distance...
A rattle of keys and the cell door opens. Three soldier
stands at the door. Two military policeman and a regimental
                       REGIMENTAL CORPORAL
Father its time to go.
The parson nods and William stands up.
                       PARSON (O.S)
May never make us forget them
until we meet again. AMEN.
The corporal marches up to William places a white patch onto
his tunic over his heart, William glances down.
                       REGIMENTAL CORPORAL
Private Billingham! Left turn!
William is halted. Two MILITARY POLICE grab his arms and
hold him up.
Eddie stands SHAKING a voice echoes from behind.
                       PARSON (O.S)
Be our strength in hours of
weakness. In our wanderings be our
guide. Through Endeavour, failure
danger father, are thou at our
The military police escort William. William shuffles along.
Parson in front reading from the bible.

Eddie turns his head glances behind, a lone figure appears
in front of him. Eddie glances to his left then right.
                       SERGEANT MAJOR (O.S)
Stand still you in the middle!
Eddie moves his head forward sharp. William stands against


the chair, facing the ten men. Eddie starts squinting his
eyes from the sweat.

(P.O.V.) Three officers appear behind the table The Sergeant
Major marches up to William. WILLIAM is forced down onto a
                       SERGEANT MAJOR
Private Billingham! Place you're
hands behind the chair, and feet
together lad.
Sergeant Major ties WILLIAMís hands behind the chair and
feet together.
                       SERGEANT MAJOR
May god be with you son.
William moves his head to the side. Muttering.
                       SERGEANT MAJOR
Thatís it lad.
Tears start rolling down Eddie's cheeks mixed with the
I can't do this, I just can't do
this... Not to one of ours.
A Soldier WHISPERS to Eddie.
                       SOLDIER ONE
Eddie quiet or youíll end up at
the post as well... for disobeying
an order.
I could have prevented this, from
happening you know, only if I had
stopped him.
Eddie drops to his knees. CRYING. Two soldiers grab Eddie
pull him up. The Sergeant Major turns around.


                       SERGEANT MAJOR
Get that Fucking man up! And stand
in line!
Eddie stands up shaking trembling out of control.

The sergeant major marches to the table halts salutes. The
three officers salute back.
                       SERGEANT MAJOR
      (to the officers)
Firing squad ready for you're
instruction sir!
                       COMMANDING OFFICER
Thank you Sergeant Major!
The Commanding officer marches between William and the
firing squad READING out the charge sheet.
                       COMMANDING OFFICER (CONT'D)
375281 Private William John
Billingham! Royal Kent Fusiliers!
You have been charged under the
army act, for cowardice in the
face of the enemy!
William glances at Eddieís back and gives a SMILE. Full of
friendship and respect.
                       COMMANDING OFFICER
You are to be executed for
cowardice on this day eighteenth
of October 1917. May god be with
you... Sergeant Major!
Commanding officer turns marches back to the table.
                       SERGEANT MAJOR (O.S)
Sir! Firing squad! About Turn!
A THUNDER of boots hit the floor as the firing squad about
                       SERGEANT MAJOR
Take Uuuuuuup arms...! Ready!
Adopt the firing position!
Eddie brings his rifle up.
                       SERGEANT MAJOR (CONT'D)


Eddie fumbles, tears running down his face, aims at the
white patch.
Iím sorry my good friend.
                       SERGEANT MAJOR
We see row after row of OLD horse drawn carts standing
empty, against mountains of coal. The noise of someone
hammering something on metal. A horse in the background
making a noise calling out. Two workers sit around eating
sandwiches covered and blacken by the coal dust.

A lone figure leads a horse from its stables patting and
talking to the horse. WILLIAM BILLINGHAM comes into view.
                       WORKER ONE
William will never fall for it, no
one can be that stupid!
                       WORKER TWO
William Billingham is! I reckon
the doctor dropped him on his
head, when he was a baby!
William leads the horse pass the two workers.
                       WORKER ONE
Hey, William Sally the horse, has
been commandeered for war work,
the manager wants to see both of
you in his office immediately!
William glances across and SMILES.
What old Sally too?
                       WORKER ONE
Thatís right William, now hurry it
up or youíll catch it.
William turns to the horse.
How about that, Sally? Youíve got
some work at last, girl. I know
youíve felt left out of it since


                       WILLIAM (cont'd)
they stopped the horse drawn
William slowly strolls across to the managers office.
A bull of a man sits at his table, flicking through a book
and writing in it. Then the door BUSTS open, and the manager
glances up and comes face to face with William and a horse.
Is this your idea of a joke,
Billingham? The military wonít
want that broken down nag! Get her
out! As for you lad...
The two workers stand laughing. William gives a angry stare
and pushes the horse out of the way.
                       WORKER ONE
Hew! Who got the sack then?
                       WORKER TWO
I told you William was thick!
William glance over, fist together moves towards them.
Right you asked for it!
Fists and boots start flying, William lands a punch right on
the JAW of one of the workers, sending him flying to the
                       WORKER TWO
Get him on the ground and weíll
give him a good Fucking kicking,
the little bastard!
One of the workers lands a punch on top of Williamís head as
he ducks.
                       WORKER ONE
Ainít no good punching Williamís
head in, its solid flipping bone!
William struggles to get up, and his feet are kicked away


from him. The two workers stand over him and laugh. William
glances up and gives a SMILE. He gets up a strolls across to
the horse wiping the blood from his lips.
Bye, Sally youíre too old for the
army and Iím too young... just
sixteen, but maybe if I was to fib
about my age, I might get in.
William pats the horse on the neck and disappears out of the
yard, the two workers LAUGH.
Soldiers march pass to the cheers of the crowd, William and
Eddie stand watching.
So what happened yesterday Will?
William not taking any notice, turns and glances at a poster
on the town hall wall, with a picture of Lord Kitchener
pointing and a caption that reads BRITAIN WANTS YOU, JOIN
William turns to Eddie and nudges him, and nods at the
Well! What do you think!
Eddie starts laughing and glances back at the soldiers
My mother would kill me!
Címon Eddie.
This is stupid, weíll never get
William strolls to the town hall and enters the front door,
followed by Eddie.
William stands in line with other men and glances around,


some that he knows and gives a nod. Eddie stand behind him
shaking. A soldier sits at a table at the front of the hall
taking details.
William steps forward and glances up at a poster the same
one that is outside. The soldier takes Williamís detail,
stares up at him, gets up and marches over to a RECRUITMENT
SERGEANT standing at the side.
Weíve got a right one here Sarge!
He says he is eighteen, but he
canít even add up!
The sergeant glances across.
You donít need to be clever to
fight in the trenches, heís a
tough looking lad heíll do!
William and Eddie march in three ranks on the parade ground,
the DRILL SERGEANT bellows out his command.
                       DRILL SERGEANT
I said eyes right, Billingham!
Donít you know your left from your
right? Its army right not bloody
civil right!
William moves his head sharp to the left.
                       DRILL SERGEANT
You may have broken your motherís
heart Billingham... you wonít
break mine, now get it right!
The end of civilization. Crumbled buildings, fallen trees
fields and roads pockmarked by war. The sound of guns echo
in the background.

Row after row of soldiers march side by side, followed by
horse drawn ambulances carrying the wounded from the front
line. William and Eddie and their company march the other


Where we heading for, Will?
The Somme! They reckon thereís
gonna be a big push, and weíll be
in the thick of it... hereís some
of Ďem coming back!
Eddie glances across, men march with there heads down
looking dejected.
                       SOLDIER (O.S.)
What is it like, chum?
                       SOLDIER ONE
Hell mate!
William glances at Eddie and nudges him and points to the
horse. All of a sudden shells start whizzing overhead and
exploding all around.
                       SOLDIER THREE
Woolly bears! Take cover!
Men run off the road into the pockmarked fields, jumping
into the shell craters. The horse drawn ambulances bolt
forward. William glances up as an ambulance bolts towards a
shell crater the horse out of control.
                       AMBULANCE DRIVER
Cut that horse loose, or heíll
drag us all into the mud!
William looks on horrified and panics as the horse drags the
ambulance into the shell crater, and turns towards Eddie.
That ambulance horse! The noise
and the flashes are, terrifying
him... heís going loopey!
A soldier gets up and dashes forward and brings his rifle
up, ready to shoot the horse. William get up and dashes
towards the soldier.
Donít be a fool Will! A nag ainít
worth choking for in, that black
William reaches the soldier, and grabs him by the arm.


Hay! Mate, donít do it.
William slides down into the shell crater and into the dark
water. The horse kicks out swing its head from side to side.
                       WILLIAM (CONT'D)
Easy, boy... you wouldnít want to
bite old Will, would you?
William grabs the horseís bridle to try and calm him down,
cuts the rains and places a rag over the horseís eyes, and
the horse calms down.
Its all right now, boy.
                       AMBULANCE DRIVER (O.S.)
That was a right plucky thing to
do lad. Thereís many a Tommy
whatís drowned in a shell hole
like that!
William glances around, and fines his unit has moved on. He
glances down at his uniform now covered in mud.
Shit! I hope they donít put me on
a charge for messing up me
William strolls along the road and reaches the reserve
trenches he arrives at a sign which reads B COY HQ, he
strolls further on into the trench and taps a soldier half
standing on the shoulder.
My unitís moved on... have to find
out which way theyíve gone.
Er...scuse me.
The soldier slumps down onto the fire step stares at
William, not moving.
                       VOICE (O.S.)
He wonít help you lad, the poor
devilís copped it!
William moves pass the soldier trying to fine where the
voice came from and strolls onto a dugout.


If youíre looking for the Kents,
theyíre down at Rat Villa.
Sergeant Soap is in charge and
heís a holy terror, so I should
get a move on!
William glances around.
What! This way.
                       VOICE (O.S.)
Left at the ritz, turn right at
the Beware of sniper sign, and
straight in front of you!
Cheers mate!
William moves slowly along taking in the view, and nods at
soldiers sitting on the fire step. THEN the sound of more
incoming fire from the german positions. William starts
running along the trench.
Shells exploded above the parapet william ducks and crouch
runs along.
                       VOICE (O.S.)
Theyíre shelling early today, Soap
wonít like it if the Hun
interrupts his bath!
William reaches the Rat Villa and a shell explodes above
him, sending him hurtling forward into a water filled
Shit! That was near.
William glances up shakes his head ducks down to reach his
rifle, then pops up startle and comeís face to face with
SERGEANT SOAP in his 40ís a stalwart of a figure and the
platoon sergeant.
Sorry, sir! I didnít mean to...


I didnít think you came in to
scrub me back! And donít call me
sir! Iím a Sergeant, I work for a
Iím sorry sir! I mean Sarge.
Soap gives a SMILE.
Welcome to the war son!
In a water and mud, filled trench. William sits on the edge
of the fire step and scribbles on a piece of paper with a
broken pencil. Licking the lead tip every few lines. SMILING
as he writes the letter.

Rats big as rabbits run around and over his boots. William
kicks them away.
                       WILLIAM (V.O.)
My Dearest mother, we have been
shot into this great war, very
suddenly. We arrived yesterday
morning at our destination at
eight a.m.
William glances up.
Two soldiers pass carrying a wounded soldier by his feet and
shoulders. Barely recognizable under his burnt flesh and
oozing wounds.

The two soldiers struggle to keep their grip on the man's
bloody feet and shoulders. Suddenly, the man jerks and comes
too. He squirms violently from shock.

Blood squirts out of his side and onto his letter. William
watches and shuts his eyes. Rubs the blood smearing it over
the letter then wiping the sweat from his forehead ANGRILY
then carries on writing.
                       WILLIAM (V.O.)
The trenches themselves were quite
different from anything, I had
imagined. They have been so often


                       WILLIAM (cont'd)
filled with water and rebuilt,
that nothing much was visible
except seas of mud and holes full
of water, and filthy.
William glances up, Artillery shells whistle and shriek
overhead exploding above the parapet, William dives for
cover and the sounds in the background are indecipherable.


Soldiers run for cover. William glances up from the floor of
the trench. Holding the letter crunched up in his tight
fist. Monstrous rats come to life from behind the sandbags,
scampering boldly through the mud.

William covered in mud struggles to get up loss his footing
SLIPS and falls into a dugout.
Pulling back the flap reveals a group, of soldiers and a
candlelit dugout. The dugout is cramped damp dark and
windowless, there is a hay on the floor. Ammunition boxes
against the wall. Some chairs. Nothing else.
Bloody hell that was close!
William shaken GLANCES around. Six men slumped around a oil
lit fire he picks himself up from the floor.
                       EDDIE (O.S.)
Now then Will, Fritz scare you.
William slumps down on a make shift chair. Letter crunched
in one hand rifle in the other.
Just a little bit Eddie nothing
for a few hours then this.
He smiles wearily.
Does Fritz always start shelling
early. Something, must be
happening... Here Will, have some
of these.


Eddie hands over some sandwiches, William glances across and
takes them.
What are these?
Bully Beef Sandwiches Will, with a
little bit of French mud and chalk
thrown in.
William smiles and shakes his head to indicate not again.
God! If I eat any more bully beef,
Iíll be sick.
The dull noise of shells exploding overhead, William glances
up chalk, mud and dust falls from the ceiling he then
glances at Eddie, flinching.
I see sergeant major Kitchen and
Hackett were killed last night.
PRIVATE JACK JONES 21 fresh faced small sly looking, reading
a paper glances up.
Yeah... Not a thing left of him.
CORPORAL TOMMY GOW 30 known as Tucker stands up. Drinking
from a Ration tin, hands William the drink.
Here you are lad! This will put
hairs on your chest!
William take the tin and takes a sip, spiting it out with
Bloody hell corporal! What is
Coughing holding his throat. Tucker and Jones start
William wipes his eyes.


He told you, it would put hairs on
your chest!
What is it?
Navy Rum lad! If it donít put
hairs on your chest, it will keep
you calm while the Hun bomb the
hell out of us!
William smiles shaking his head. Eddie glances over
I take it, from the smile on your
face Eddie you've had some of
One or two Will.
I donít know, you young lads
should be tucked up in bed at
home, not here! Why, the hell, did
you join up?
Eddie and William glances up and stares at each other.
Why did you join up William?
Like everyone else Jack!
Is that right, Eddie?
Thatís it Jack... like everyone
else, for King and Country.
Tucker smiles slumps down against the dugout wall.
I've been at war now, for nearly
three years... look around you,
what do you see!
William glances around.


Well I lost my job, at the coal
depot, and it seemed a good idea
to join up!
Tucker glances over and stands up shaking his head.
Have you no brains at all
Billingham? For three long
years... I have been shot at,
shelled, and bloody gassed, and it
ainít for King and bloody country
any more lad.
The shelling stops. Then SILENCE. William glances at Eddie.
SHIT! Stand too!
The canvas door is pushed back. A figure appears in the
light of the entries. William glances over his shoulder, and
Old Soap stands staring at him.
Right! Get your asses moving now!
The Hun are on the move!
Men start running into position, William stand just below
the fire step waits for the order to take up position, he
glances over to Eddie and gives a smile.
Billingham! Get up on that fire
step and get that box periscope
William jumps up. Grabs the periscope and pushes it up over
the parapet and glances into it.
Crater after crater. Bodies twisted amongst the barbed wire
Nothing Sarge!
Lets have a look son!


Soap stares in HORROR. A cloud of yellow smoke drifting
across no mans land.
                       SOAP (CONT'D)
Gas! Attack Gas! Attack! RUSLING
hit that shell casing!
Eddie dashes across to the shell hanging from the dugout
wall and Starts HITTING it frantically. Soap grabs William
and points to his gas mask. William PANICS.
Panic also sets amongst the soldiers.Tucker runs up the
trench shouting GAS! GAS! GAS! Grabbing men and pushing them
onto the fire step. The Gas drifts into the trench. The
trench as gone mad, beyond belief its like a crowd dashing
for a bus.
Keep above the fire step and off
the duckboards! And look to your
Jones panics, he can't get his gas mask on.
Uh... I canít get me gas mask on!
Iím gonna die! Iím gonna die!
William jumps down grabs Jones, Eddie stares at him in
Keep bloody still!
Jones kicks out and Fists start flying.
Get off me! Get bloody off me!
William struggles to grab Jones by his arms, he is kicking
out like a mad man.
Eddie! give us a hand and get his
mask on!
Eddie runs over. Pulls Jones mask over his head. Jones
starts shaking his head, trying to get it off, coughing and
screaming. William lands a punch and Jones calmís down.


Jack! Look at me! Breath out!
(shaking him)
Look at me!
Jones pushes Eddie back and he stubble's back and into the
gas filled trench.
      (staring down)
You should of left me, Eddie! Left
me to die!
Eddie gets up and stands back amazed ready to punch him one.
Soap jumps down and grabs Jones.
(face to face)
You ungrateful little shit, Jones!
These men has just saved your
Soap turns away ANGRY. Then turns back around and comes face
to face with Jones again.
Jones stands speechless, glances around at the other. NOBODY
notices. Soap grabs Jones and pushes him up onto the fire
step. William stares into the periscope, glances around at
Soap, then stares into the periscope again.
SOAP turns around gives Jones one last angry stare, and
JUMPS onto the fire step.
Stand too lads! Look to the front!
Keep your masks on and wait for my
SOAP holds the periscope, up higher. Not saying a think,
nudges William and points at the Lewis gun.
William strolls around the back of the Lewis machine gun.
Breathing hard through his mask. A soldiers lies next to it
DEAD. William pulls the body away and the body slowly slump
to the ground.
Poor bastard.


EDDIE looks down then up horrified, half the soldier's face
has been blown off. Raw bone glistens underneath.
That could have been you Jack.
JONES stares at him in horror, glances up doesn't say a
                       SOAP (O.S.)
Fix bayonets!
LIEUTENANT JAMES ATKINS MID 30ís appears. Strides low.
Revolver in hand adjusting his mask. SHOUTING.
Wait for the order!
Wave after wave of gray uniforms appear through the yellow
mist like ghost's. All in gas masks. March slowly towards
them, climbing over the barbed wire entanglements.
A silence diffs over the trench, as the men look forward.
Atkins raises his hand. THEN the silence is broken, enemy
bullets whip crack, whine and zip past Williamís head, but
he doesn't seem to notice.
Soap glances around and along his position, and forgets
about his own safety. A bullet THUNDERS into his arm, it
spins him round, and he gives out a shout.
You bastard!
William glances over, Soap slumps to the ground holding his
arm. William leaves his position and dashes towards Soap,
and tries to help him. A second shot narrowly misses

Atkins shouts FIRE. William suddenly feels a rush of panic,
and runs back to his position, glances back at Soap as he
drags himself up. William grabs the Lewis gun pressing the
trigger. The machine gun chatters and barks.

The ghost like figures start dropping down in front of him.


Atkins heart is pounding as he crouch walks along the
hellish trench. Eddie changes position, asking one of the
other SOLDIERS to swap with him, settling down next to
Fire at will!
A sharp volley of rifle fire CRACK out.
Enemy soldierís collapse, sliding down the shell craters.
Gray uniforms TWIST and TURN. Falling onto the barbed wire

The place shroud in gun smoke, flashes of orange light
bursting through. Bullets SLAP and tear into their bodies,
punching them backwards, wreaking havoc. SCREAMS of agony as
bodies are hit near the impassable, soupy bog.
William whole body shakes with the gun. Every time he fires,
someone in front of him, falls. He glances over to Eddie who
strafe no mans land. Jones runs up and pours water on the
gun barrel. Steam rises.
The Germansís keep coming, clambering over the bodies of
their dead. Artillery Shells whistle and shriek overhead
exploding amongst the line of advancing soldiers. Some turn
and run, only to disappear in the explosion of the shells.
Soapís P.O.V Stares in horror but he watches in appreciation
as the big shells start to land amongst his attackers
causing havoc. GERMAN SOLDIERS, break ranks. They stop
firing as they see the remnants of the German army
retreating back.
The GERMAN line pulls back, firing reloading as it retreats.
There's a moments confusion and then a roar of celebration
around the trench.


      (holding is arm)
Keep calm! Keep calm!
William collapse with exhaustion. Shaking Crying out of
A line of SOLDIERS Shuffle slowly along, Blindfolded their
hands on each others shoulders. White Luggage labels tied on
their tunics. Jones looks on wiping the sweat and mud from
his face.
Those Poor bastards!
Soap appears with Eddie and William. William grabs Jones on
the shoulder Jones turns around sharply.
Now then! Jack.
Jones still fixed on the walking wounded, turns towards
Those poor bastards. Look at them.
William shakes his head in disbelief.
Yeah... and one of them could
have, be you!
Soap stares then turns to the three standing watching the
wounded file pass.
Jones, Rusling, Billingham, with
me burial party.
STRETCHER BEARERS carry limp blooded bodies from the first
aid dugout. William watches in horror. Eddie bows his head,
and Jones takes his helmet off and Wipes his forehead.


Stretcher bearers lay the bodies in neat rows covered in
blooded groundsheets.
William and Jones take their back packs off, grabbing two
spades and start digging.

Eddie uncovers the bodies checking the labels for names.
Its hard bloody work, over here in
the reserve trench... then on the
bloody front line!
Stop moaning Jack, at least weíre
off the line for a few hours.
William STOPS digging. Rests on the spade handle while
watching the walking wounded file pass. He then kneels down
and picks up lumps of chalk, crumbling it in his hands.
This is like the stuff back home
in Ashford.
Címon Will, get digging!
William shakes his head, his eyes narrow slightly. Thereís a
long silence and then he gets up and starts digging.

SOAP strolls up with Atkins and another officer CAPTAIN
ROWLANDS 40ís. a tired expression, but his features are
intelligent. Office Commanding.
      (glancing at the
       burial party)
These men sir! Are the burial
party for the platoon.
We took a few casualties today
sir! The lad checking names, is
Rusling. The other is Billingham
sir! The soldier you know on the
left sir, is Jones.
Jones glances up and Nudges William. William glances up, but
Keeps digging.
Shit! Rowlands is back.


William glances upwards again.
How long, have these men been with
us James?
Came into the platoon, about four
days ago...good soldiers sir.
Weíll see. You look a bit green,
around the gills James. Canít you
take it, eh?
Atkins smiles.
Its a waist of life, all this.
Sending young lads to die. Our
generals want, butchers not
This blooded is necessary, James.
It might be in your eyes, but not
mine sir.
Eddie glances up. Pulls back the groundsheet over the body.
Does anyone recognize this bloke?
Jones and William glance over. Two SOLDIERS watch shake
their heads.
                       EDDIE (CONT'D)
No? All right...another unknown.
Two SOLDIERS stroll across and lay WHITE crosses on the dead

Rowlands takes out a cigarette and lights it. Smoke drifts
towards Atkins.
What does it matter, if a few
thousand Tommies die?
Atkins looks away in horror. Soap strolls away towards


A few thousand!
In the last five months, since the
battalion as been on and off the
frontline! Iíve seen innocence die
in these trenches! For what?
The English rose James must be
pruned, the dead wood cut and
thrown away so the rose becomes
Atkins limps away. DISGUSTED
Youíre right sir! But weíre not
talking about rose bushes, weíre
talking about human beings.
Youíre too soft James!
Atkins turns ANGRY ignores Rowlands completely then turns
back round.
Iím too soft! Since you have been
away, we have been through hell!
Lost good friends and family
members, and you say Iím too soft!
Rowlands turns his head the other way.
      (A hint of guilt)
Me, Iím itching canít wait, to get
back to the front line and see
more action.
SILENCE. William stares out into the darkness of night,
tormented, from the days action. Tucker cleans his revolver,
while Jones makes tea. Eddie slumps against the wall
smoking, William turns and glances at him.
When did you start smoking Ed!


Eddie glances up and SMILES and passes the cigarette to
Tucker. Jones stands in.
What are you thinking Will?
Iím just wondering why we are
Ask the Sarge.
I know what heíll say, its not for
us to question.
(a beat)
Do you ever ask yourself why we
are here, and why we are fighting
this war?
Soap checks the sentries, while soldiers sleep on the fire
step. He notices some are still awake talking, laughing
exchanging stories. Green flares shoot into the night sky,
while he grabs two SOLDIERS.
You two, with me!
Címon This way!
Soap and the two soldiers STROLLS along the zig zag trench
line, and stops at a look out post.
                       SOAP (CONT'D)
Right! One up top, one below! Fix
your bayonets. Iíll be back later
to check on you and no fucking
sleeping on the job.
Soap moves back along the trench and bumps into Eddie.
Soap glances at Eddie, nods to say hello and strolls away.
Then STOPS and turns around.


Young Eddie!
Eddie stops.
Yes Sarge!
What are you doing?
Eddie grins and slumps down on the fire step, Soap sits down
next to him.
What the hell are you doing, in
this god forsaken shit hole?
Eddie glances at him funny and smiles.
I don't know Sarge! I've been
asking myself that question.
I haven't had time to talk to you
just yet, but I suppose anytime is
as good like now.
Eddie grabs his canteen and takes a drink and a RUNNER
appears out of the dark knocking Eddie backwards spilling
his water all over him.
      (breathing heavy)
Excuse, excuse me mate, Sarge!
Soap stands up and bellows out.
You lad stop!
The runner disappears out of view and around the corner,
STOPS. Steps back, and GLANCES around the corner. Soap and
Eddie stare in anger.
                       SOAP (CONT'D)
Whatís the rush?


Sorry Sarge, looking for Mr.
Rowlands. I have a message for
him, from battalion!
The reserve trench
Uh... Thank you Sarge!
Soap and Eddie watch the runner disappear along the trench
and into the dark. Soap glances up to the sky. It starts
Bloody rain! Doesn't ever stop in
this country?
Rowlands pours wine into a mug. Atkins sits at the only
table down at the far end of the dugout.
...I need to talk to you, Sir.
There's a long silence as Rowlands gazes at him, he nods
PENSIVELY. Atkins looks as if he hasn't slept in days. The
sound of guns echo outside in the distance. Rowlands glances
You were never cut out for this
professionalism were you
      (A thin smile)
Was it that obvious?
It was to me, James Ever since we
left England.
The door opens. A soldier stands soaking wet, holding a
letter in his hand.Atkins glances up, and Rowlands strolls
over to him.


      (breathing heavy)
Mr. Rowlands sir! I have a massage
for you!
Who sent you private?
Colonel Osborn sir!
Rowlands grabs the letter. Opens it, glances and hands it
over to Atkins.
Bloody hell! that a bit short
The Runner smiles. Atkins stare seeing the depth of his
anguish. Rowlands turns around angry.
Okay, private.
The runner steps back. Salutes. Disappears through the door.
Rowlands slumps down, crushes the massage in his hand and
throws it across the dugout.
Rowlands pours wine in the mug. Drinks it back in one, and
also throws it at the dugout wall.
Soap fast asleep. Water flows into the dugout. Tucker reads
an old newspaper. The flap opens, Atkins strolls in. Tucker
stands up. SOAP opens his eyes.
Itís okay Corporal, sit down.
Soap open his eyes,trying to pierce the darkness and sits
Anything wroug Sir!
Yes Sergeant! We need to send out
a riding party tonight.


Tonight! whose fucking idea is
that then.
Soap scratches his head, and Tucker looks on. Soap gets up,
rubs his eyes strolls across to a table. Pours water from a
jug into a bowl and washes himself.
Soap, Atkins, and Tucker make their way towards the platoon
location. Passing sleeping soldiers and sentries on guard.
Soap passes William and nudges him.
Wake up young William.
William opens his eyes, glances up and around.
Get up lad! Grab Jones, and the
others, we'll meet you in your
William glances at ATKINS and nods.
William strolls into the dugout, and slumps down on an
ammunition box and glances over to Eddie. William starts
laughing. And Eddie glances up.
William shakes his head and looks down with a bid grin on
his face, then glances back over to Eddie.
Where did you learn to knit,
I like to keep my hands busy
William, you see I've got big


                       EDDIE (cont'd)
hands which I got to keep
Soap strolls into the dugout and stands at the enters.
Right listen in!
Those in the dugout turn to Soap SILENCE. Soap throws into
the air and catches a grenade.
                       SOAP (CONT'D)
Right we've got a little job to
get your bombs and weapons, lads
we're out for a trot across no
mans land.
A lone figure stands up in the background. LANCE CORPORAL
JOCK HARRIS 20's comes into view.
I've got me shovel sharpened up
ready, Sergeant!
Er... what do I do with this club
William and Eddie start laughing.
I could tell you Jones! but just
watch how I use Mary here!
William bust out laughing again and Soap give him a stare
that could kill.
                       SOAP (CONT'D)
Named it after me old dutch! Got
the most wicked punch in the east
end has my Mary!
The trench is empty, except for a few sentries on duty. A
lone figure stands waiting. Six figures appear out of the
night mist, blacken faces carrying the tools of the trade.


Okay lads, stand in line.
Soap leads them to an opening within the trench. Stares at
his watch 22.29 PM, pats Tucker on the back. Two soldiers
hold the barbed wire apart

Tucker climbs over the shelled parapet Jones and William,
follow. Harris Soap and Eddie wait, for the signal. Jones
gives the THUMBS UP. The sergeant watches for a few minutes
the figures disappear into the dark.
Move forward at the slither lads,
like ruddy snakes.
Jones glances back at Eddie.
It ain't healthy going out, on a
night raid, Eddie its gonna ruin
my beauty sleep.
I bet we look like blinking black
and white minstrels... we must be
Stop grousing, Rusling! If the Hun
hears you, you'll be pushing up
daisies in no time!
William crawls alongside Soap and points to the left of him.
Sarge! I think I see someone over
there, hiding in the long grass.
Soap stares across in the direction.
Good work lad! I'll make a soldier
out of you yet. Move in quietly
and see who it is?
William slides and crawls on his stomach moving through the
slime and mud. Stops, glances around moves pass the dead of
German and British soldiers.


Bodies twisted and torn to pieces fully clothed skeletal
remains the horror over comes him. He PANICS breathing heavy
he calms down. Then he slowly crawls towards the object, its
NOTHING a fallen tree.
A smoke filled room, two oil lamps hanging from the dugout
ceiling. Soldiers playing cards, some asleep some cleaning
rifles. A gramophone plays soft music in the background. A
German soldier turns over in his sleep, and open his eyes.
                       GERMAN SOLDIER
      (in german)
Turn that gramophone down... I
must get some sleep.
                       GERMAN SOLDIER ONE
Ach, you make me sick you
Prussians, we fight for the
fatherland, not like you... who
take the pleasure in all this
                       GERMAN SOLDIER
Turn it down! You Saxons are
weak... not like us Prussians, the
knights of old. We will crush all
who stand in our way, now turn it
                       GERMAN SOLDIER TWO
Shut up, what a bore you are...
pipe down and get back to sleep!
William, Soap and Tucker crawl up to the wire, just below
the german trench, holding the wire cutters William crawls
forward and CUTS.

Eddie and Jones watch from a shell crater behind them.
Harris crawls forward and taps Soap on his back. Soap turns
around Harris points to a helmet bobbing up and down, Soap
nods to say I've see it.

William holds the wire and pushes it to one side. A bottle
is thrown lands next to Tucker, he shuts his eyes. Tucker
glances at William, places two figures towards William
indicating two bodies. William nods. Moves forward.


Two german soldiers sit around a broken ammunition box. a
small fire burns in an old oil drum. The soldiers are
Smoking and laughing. Behind is a german sentry, watching
no man lands.
Quite! Can you hear something?
The sentry glances around, the two others glance up, then go
back to talking and smoking.
                       SENTRY ONE
      (not looking)
Its the rats, eating away at the
Tommy dead. Here have a drink of
this wine.
He offers the bottle.
                       SENTRY TWO
Nothing, is going to happen
tonight, relax will you.
The sentry turns around taking a drink from the bottle.
But! I heard something?
                       SENTRY TWO
Okay. Okay. Iíll have a look.
The german sentry gets up and glances over the trench
                       SENTRY TWO (CONT'D)
You see, nothing.
The soldier turns around and steps off the firestep. The
other sentry shakes his head.

A entrenching tool hits the sentry over the head with force,
knocking the sentry forward on top of the two germanís.
Soap, and Tucker then William followed by Harris jump up
over the parapet into the trench.

The germanís scramble to get up.Tucker grabs one german,
pushing him against the fire step, hand over mouth. The
germanís eyes water in pain and fear. Tucker stares at him,
crushing his spirit with his own unflinching gaze.


The german kicks out Tucker feels the mans grip weaken, he
pulls away sharply, and swings the bayonet down with all his
force. The blade sticks into the germanís chest, sending his
eyes spinning out of focus, forcing a rush of blood out of
his mouth.

Tucker watches in horror, as the man's eyes roll around,
desperately trying to find their focus, then stop still. He
feels his enemy's dying breath on his face, and hears a
horrible sucking sound, as he withdraws the bayonet.

William and Harris jump on top of the other soldier, forcing
and holding him down. The german struggles and starts
kicking out. Soap moves towards the light from the dugout.
The bastard. Right hold him up.
Tucker swings a punch knocking the german out.
                       TUCKER (CONT'D)
Search those two, heís coming with
William kneels down next to the sentry, searching for
documents, he pulls out a photo of a young woman stares at
it then some cigarettes he stuffs the cigarettes in his
pocket and throws the photo to the ground.

The photo floats to the ground in slow motion and lands in a
puddle of water.
Corporal, this one is still alive.
Tucker bring his rifle up, Soap glances across and points
down the trench. Tucker glances back and sees a lone figure
slowly moving towards them Tucker then slowly crouches down.
                       VOICE (O.S.)
HALT! Who goes there?
Soap makes one tigerish leap towards the dark figure.
Smacking the german with his Mary.
Take that Jerry!
Soap dashes out and stands over the STILL body and grins. He
then moves back to the dugout.


Silence all around. Soap glances around towards William and
Harris both stare back. Stairs lead down to a well lit
dugout. Soap creeps down the stairs. Voices echo below. Soap
stops then creeps further down, Glances around. Crouches.

He is horrified sweat runs down his face.
Shit! This is bloody deep and
sheer madness.
Soap glances back, moves backwards slowly. Backs out of the
canvas door.
Tucker stands at the entries watching for any signs of more
German's. Soap backs out.
bloody madness! sheer bloody
Anything down their, and what is
madness Sarge!
Right lets get out of here.
Soap gives a worried smile. William and Harris stares.
Corporal! What did he see down
Tucker shakes his head and pushes William back.
Nothing Billingham, lets move.
Right bring them two!


William gives a GROAN lifting the German, over his shoulders
and climbs out over the parapet into no mans land. Tucker
and Harris lift the other German by his hands and feet and
throw the German over.
William and the riders their prisoners hurry back across no
mans lands, SUDDENLY Flares shoot up into the night sky. And
machine guns open up.
fuck! Jerry's hopping mad now,
he's out for blood!
Bullets whip crack, whine and zip machine guns chatter and
bark , William crouch runís zig zags through the barbed wire
slides and tumbles forward.
Tries to hold his footing, he falls head first into a shell
hole, and rolls down into the mucky filled watered hole.
Fucking shit!
Covered in mud, William panics grabs the side claws his way
out and up to the side. And THEN the noise of a trench
mortar fires.
Get your heads down... Christmas
As the ghastly bomb spins slowly through the air Harris
hesitates jumps up and dashes forward it explodes, sending
Harris flying through the air LANDING amongst the barbed
wire entanglements
I...I canít get free!
Bullets slam into his body with a THUD and a CRACK sending
flash blood and bone out from his back. He Slumps forward
DEAD blood and spit drips from his mouth, making a puddle of
thick dark blood amongst the mud. .
Eddie glances around and crawls towards Harris. THEN a crack
and a THUD as he exposes his body. Eddie gives out a cry.
Shit! I've been hit!


Rusling when I told you to get
your head down, I meant your
backside an all!
Eddie shouts out in pain, William glances around he hears
Eddie voice.
I'm going to die! I'm going to
No, your ain't... not until I give
you permission lad. Now get up and
William stumbles down into the trench carefully grabbing
Eddie who cries out in pain, holding his backside. Jones
bring the two prisoners up, pushing them into the trench.
The pain the fucking pain!
Stop the moaning Eddie, its only a
Soap and Tucker jump into the trench and slump down onto the
fire step. Soap glances up and sees a dark figure approach.
what's all the noise about
Atkins appears and stands glancing at the two German
Jones! send these two sorry
looking prisoners down the line to
battalion HQ!
Soap steps in.
We lost Lance corporal Harris sir!
And Ruslings been wounded sir!


      (in pain)
In me backside sir!
William starts laughing, Eddie glances up and gives a hard
long stare.
Haw! Eddie was always a pain in
the backside sir!
Oh your funny! How would you like
to be shot up the ass!
A good nights work, men sorry
about Harris... he was a good
I think you've all got a vulgar
sense of humour! God my ass is
An obstacle course of a different kind. SOLDIERS stand in
line too attentiom. STUFFED dummies hang from wooded frames,
with barbed wire obstacle at a distance in front.
British and French guns, line the horizon. A chain link
fence, of barbed wire, stretching off into the distance...
flanked by windswept, parched brown grass.

Men stand next to the guns. The order is given to FIRE. The
THUNDEROUS sound of a massive artillery barrage starts up
and echoes, right across the horizon

Men load the heavy gunís shell after shell and fire. Shells
whistle from the gun, barrels flashes Illuminating the
horizon, the power is astonishing.
Through a dim light we see lines of uniformed soldiers, boys
of eighteen and nineteen stretched out across the frontline
assault trench, glancing up at the parapet. Trench ladders


line the trench wall.

There's a tense silence except for the occasional cough, men
being sick and the echo of artillery gun fire.

William and Eddie stand next to each other nervously, Jones
stands motionless. He stares towards the horizon. William
shakes out of control. Eddie stares at him. Sergeant Soap
marches up the line of men. Atkins and Rowlands, check their
Two minutes James.
                       SOAP (O.S.)
Remember what the generals have
said? Its a walk in the park! Keep
in formation, and follow your
section commanders.
Soap gives a worried glances as if he knows whatís going to

Atkins glances along the line of men. Silver triangle
flashes gleam in the morning sun. MacLeod marches along
checking the triangles on each man. Some men are writing
there last letters home and sticking them to the sandbags.
                       MACLEOD (O.S.)
Scores of soldiers take bayonets out. MacLeod fixes his
bayonet rises his rifle ready. A sea of rifles rises up in
One minute! Steady men. Steady.
Steady now.
Eddie eyes are fixed on William all the time. William holds
his gaze, but doesn't look as sure of himself. William
fumbling with his bayonet, drops it, his hands shaking so
much he can't complete the action Eddie fixes it for him
Here you are mate. William! Keep
with me, keep calm!
Williamís eyes wide open gives a anxious SMILE. There's a
din of voices, soldiers praying.


                       VOICE (O.S.)
To your care and protection, lord,
we commend ourselves. Defend us in
the hour of danger.
William drops his rifle, turns and makes a dash, Eddie grabs
him toppling him to the ground. William kicks out SCREAMS.
I ainít going to die! Let me go!
William, youíve got to come with
us! The red caps have orders to
shoot anyone who stays behind!
A soldier grabs William and yanks him up.
                       SOLDIER ONE
Eddieís right! At least, this way
youíve got a chance William!
Sergeant Soap glances across, dashes down the line. Eddie
jumps up William glances and struggles to get up.
What the fuck is going on here
Nothing Sarge, just larking about!
Right stay with me! I donít want
you out of my site!
Scores of whistles hanging from lanyards around battalion
officers necks shrilled the signal for the MEN to climb out
of their trenches. Soldier after soldier rises from cover to
come over the edge, a dozen men are KILLED INSTANTLY and
punched back into the trench.
MacLeod walks calmly behind the front line. shorting out
That's it lads, Over the top! Get
up those ladders!
Atkins climbs up the Trench ladder and over the parapet,
followed by sergeant Soap, Eddie THEN William. Climbing
slowly up the ladder and over the parapet, William panics.


Rowlands stops, glances up points his revolver.

German machine guns, pour out a rainstorm of bullets mowing
the top of the trenches.
Get over the top Billingham, or
Iíll shoot!
William stares down. Climbs the ladder dashes forward and
drop to the ground he then turns. Rowlands climbs the ladder
deafened bullets THUD into Rowlands, punching him into the
trench. William, crouch runís back and jumps into the

Rowlands glances up. Blood seeps from his mouth and chest,

Rowlands body convulse. William stares in disbelief, frozen
for a moment. MacLeod appears on the parapet, points his
rifle, William glances up MacLeod doesn't need to say
anything, his face says it all.
Rowlands draws his last breath and dies.
I canít do it! They promised us
the German'sís would all be dead!
They promised.
Bullets SLAP into MacLeod's legs, he screams and topples
like a felled tree, sending him tumbling forward over the
edge . Flesh bone and blood shoot out, covering William.
MacLeod screams in pain.

Landing at the bottom of the trench with a painful thud. Out
of breath, he struggles to sit upright, his back against the
muddy bank of the trench.

Eddie glances over to Atkins. Bullets whipcrack, whine and
zip, machine guns chatter and bark shells whistle and shriek
overhead the sharp CRACK of rifle fire, bullets land in
front of him.

Men Advancing ponderously in tight formation across no man's


Bodies drop, hundreds of shapes move forward in line over
loaded with heavy equipment. Pushed on by OFFICERS in
perpetual motion, afraid that if they stop they'll be HIT.

Wave after wave of soldiers go over the top. The battlefield
is covered with the wounded and dying. Enemy machine guns,
protected by barbed wire entanglements, massacred the
oncoming soldiers.

Soldiers scream, curse, raising their faces to the sky,
gasping for air yelling in pain. Soldiers have been ordered
to keep going, leaving those wounded to there fate.
Donít bunch! Keep moving!
                       VOICE (O.S)
Its like going through a blinking
rain storm!
Soap stares grimly through the smoke screen. Soldiers scream
in pain. Voices echo all around.
                       VOICE (O.S.)
Please! Please help us!
Soap marches pass. Eddie jumps into a shell crater. Soldiers
fall onto the barbed wire, machined gun down. Eddie dashes
forward, someone SCREAMS in agony, Eddie looks down and sees
he's stepped on a wounded soldier.

He grabs Soap, and pulls him into a crater.
The generals have lied to us!
Soap turns terrified his eyes are on Eddie, who is looking
in the direction of the advancing men. Then he turns to Soap
stares wide eyed, and slaps Soap around the cheeks.
Sarge! Sarge!
Soap comes too, everything is in slow motion its like hell
with the lid off.
Címon lad we have to keep going!
Eddie stares shakes his head.
Its bloody suicide Sarge! we'll be
cut down.


Well we canít stay here lad!
Iím no hero Sarge!
you'll be a dead hero lad, if we
done move!
An officer appears, crouches and points his revolver. Soap
casts an anxious, appealing look at the officer who waves to
the top of the crater with his gun.
Get up and move forward, thatís an
order! Or Iíll shoot you both!
The officer is hit in the side, wounded, struggles, is hit
again, but keeps trying to get up. He's hit a third time in
the jugular vein. Eddie raises himself to the top he quickly
slips back down in the hole.

Eddie glances up. Soap grabs Eddie, and dashes forward.
Bodies litter the trench. William claps his hands over his
ears slumps against the rear wall of the trench in a state
of shock. He is staring wildly at Rowlands whose limp body
is bent over double. MacLeod is trying to catch his breath,
gives out a moan.

William stands up, and slowly turns his head to the bloody
body of MacLeod. There is a moment's hesitation and then he
dashes down the trench line and disappears. MacLeod watches
and falls into unconsciousness.
Yellow and red poppies blow in the breeze. Men scream in
pain. Shells exploded. Bodies twisted and torn, Atkins
advances shouts out orders. Crouches as bullets whip crack
around him.
Follow the flash! Címon lads
follow the flash!
Atkins SCREAMS in agony topples over half his face missing.


Flesh and bone hang down his cheek. Eddie dashes across
slumps down. Turns him over. Jump back in fright. The pair
exchange glances.

Stretcher bearer! Stretcher
Eddie glances around bodies litter the area. Men Slowly
march past, bullets CRACK men drop, screams of agony echo
amongst the dull sound of shells exploding. Eddie lifts
Atkins over his shoulders and crouch runs.
                       EDDIE (COND'T)
Donít worry Mr. Atkins sir, Iíll
get you home safely.
Eddie slowly moves amongst the dying men. Atkins legs drag
along the ground. Bullets SLAP into Eddieís legs he SCREAMS
in agony drops forward onto his kneels. Atkins roles off.
Atkins moans stares at Eddie. Eddie shields him. All of a
SUDDEN a dull noise a flash of light then explosion, Eddie
clap his hands over his ears.

Eddie stares, men move in slow motion pass him Eddie glances
up. A lone figure stand at a distances waves at him in slow
motion. Eddie reaches out.
      (to himself)
Ghost soldiers!
Atkins grabs his arm, Eddie awakes turn around.
Leave me, leave me Rusling.
Eddie shakes his head, lifts Atkins up dashes towards the
trench. Atkins scream in pain.
Red poppies blow in the breeze, the echo of gun and shell
fire in the distances. William strolls through a field with
high grass, he waves his hands over the grass not caring
about anything that is going on around him.


Sorry Eddie, hope you make it I
couldn't do it.
Suddenly William spots a caravan of ambulances he moves
against the traffic towards the back of the moving column.
He passes squads of soldiers marching, artillery units,
until he comes to the rear ambulance wagon.

William crouches low glances around then dashes forward.
William reaches the ambulance and climbs into the back
amongst the wounded and dying and HIDES.
A large room, the light in the room is dismal, with a coal
fire burning. A single chair in the middle of the room.
Surrounding the chair in a half moon shape, tables and

At the head of the table a well built man with handle bar
moustache and gray hair. Behind him, two Union Jack flags
drape from lances.

MAJOR THOMAS SPINK reads from a file, glances up. To his
left and right is CAPTAIN PORTER Royal Warwickshire
Regiment, small in appearance and to his right is CAPTAIN
HANNA Manchester rifles, a tall husky man with a receding
hair line.

At the far end of the room, two soldiers stand guard the
door OPENS. The two soldiers come too attention. In marches
CAPTAIN HALL mid 40ís small round, walks with a limp.
Morning gentleman.
Major Spink nods, Hall marches to his table.
Shall we begin gentleman?
Porter and Hanna nod. Hall stares up.
                       SPINK (COND'T)
Bring in the accused!


The door opens a lone figure head bent down, shuffles down
the long corridor escorted by two military policemen, chains
rattle and scuffle along the floor. William comes into VIEW.

William is forced down in the chair, he glances around
State your number rank name and,
William glances around the room, tries to focus his eyes on
the surroundings, he shakes out of control.
375281 Private William John
Billingham! Royal Kent Fusiliers,
Private Billingham, the offence
with which you are charged with,
is that when on active service, on
or around the first of July 1916.
You deserted his majesty service!
William bends his head down in SHAME, then glances up.
                       SPINK (COND'T)
How do you plead! Guilty or not
Not guilty sir!
Very well. We shall hear the
evidence from the prosecution.
Captain Hall, you can call your
first witness.
Hall stands up glances at William, nods to the guards at the
door. The door OPENS.
I would like to call, Company
Sergeant Major MacLeod!
Spink glances up. William glances around, his feet taps the
wooden floor boards which echoes in the room.


Very well.
MacLeod limps into the room. Aided by a walking stick.
Porter and Hanna stare. William follows him, MacLeod STOPS
stands too attention next to Hall.
Take a seat sergeant major.
MacLeod pulls the chair out and sits down.
                       SPINK (COND'T)
For the record, can you state your
number rank name and unit,
sergeant major!
William stares, MacLeod reels off his name rank number and
unit. William then closes his eyes.
Rowlands body convulse. William stares in disbelief, frozen
for a moment. MacLeod appears on the parapet, points his
rifle, William glances up MacLeod doesn't need to say
anything, his face says it all.
I canít do it! They promised us
the germanís would all be dead!
They promised.
Bullets SLAP into MacLeod's legs, he screams and topples
like a felled tree, sending him tumbling forward over the
edge . Flesh bone and blood shoot out, covering William.
MacLeod screams in pain.
William OPENS his eyes, Porter stares at him and rubs his
Sergeant major, do you know the
accused private Billingham?
MacLeod gives a angry stare. Turns to Hall.


Yes sir! He is a member of one
platoon, B company, Royal Kent
As you are yourself?
Yes sir!
What was your position in that
platoon, on July first 1916?
I was company sergeant major sir!
MacLeod gives out a moan, and steadies himself. The silence
in the room is tense.
I see you are still, suffering
from your injuries sergeant major?
Yes sir.
Hall glances up, waits for Spinkís to finish, then gives
William a long hard stare...
Sergeant major! Where was the
battalion, stationed on that day?
LE GASTINEAU sir. We were ordered
to, relieve the Irish battalions
just outside Albert.
Spinkís stares up Hanna coughs turns to Spinkís whispers and
a few words are exchanged.
Why were you ordered to relieve
the Irish?
Because of up rest in Dublin, sir
it was believed that the Irish,
were going over to join the
germanís sir!


Aye see.
William shuffles his feet, bows his head.
For the benefit of this court,
sergeant major... could you
describe the events of July first?
MacLeod turns, stares at William.
At five thirty, that morning
myself and sergeant Soap were
ordered to issue bombs, wire
cutters and other articles to the
Was the accused present when you
did this?
I believe so sir.
He was present or he wasnít?
He was present sir!
How did he look?
MacLeod gives out a laugh. Spinkís glances up, porter slumps
back into his chair. William stares scratches his face.
Scared like the rest of us.
So what happened then?
MacLeod stares in confusion, Spinkís slumps back.
Can you tell the court, what
happened next sergeant major?
Well sir, at about six fifteen I
called for private Billingham, who


                       MACLEOD (cont'd)
had been detailed to draw rations,
for the platoon.
William glances stand up, and is forced back down. Hanna
glances up.
Go on sergeant major.
Private Billingham, could not be
found so I sent lance corporal
Hart, to look for him.
Hart could not find him.
William stands up SHOUTS.
Heís bloody lying sir!
Spinkís, Porter and Hanna glances up.
What action did you take then?
Well sir, as a consequence of
lance corporal Hartís report, I
personally went to look for him.
William stares long and hard confused.
Carry on sergeant major.
I was unable to find him sir.
Hall strolls to the middle of the room.
What did you do then?
I reported the accused, as being
absent to Captain Rowlands, sir.


And that would be Captain C.W.
Rowlands, the platoon commander?
Yes sir.
Hanna turns whispers to Spinkís. Spinkís nods.
Captain Hall! Is Captain Rowlands,
giving evidence?
William glances up.
Atkins climbs up the Trench ladder and over the parapet,
followed by sergeant Soap, Eddie THEN William. Climbing
slowly up the ladder and over the parapet, William panics.
Rowlands stops, glances up points his revolver.
Get over the top Billingham, or
Iíll shoot!
William stares down. Climbs the ladder dashes forward turns.
Rowlands climbs the ladder deafened bullets THUD into
Rowlands, punching him into the trench. William, dashes and
jumps into the trench.

Rowlands glances up. Blood seeps from his mouth and chest,
Rowlands body convulse. William stares in disbelief, frozen
for a moment.
William shakes out of control, chains rattle sweat runs down
his face.
No sir. Captain Rowlands, was
killed in the first few minutes,
of the push.
Oh. I see. Carry on captain.
Hall turns to MacLeod, stares and gives a smile.


Sergeant major! When did you last
see the accused?
MacLeod glances over to William, William stares back.
Over the body of Captain Rowlands
sir... In the assault trench.
In the assault trench, over the
body of Rowlands?
Yes sir.
Then, what happened?
I ordered Billingham over the top,
then I was hit in the legs.
I canít remember much, after that
So you ordered him, up and over
the top?
Yes sir.
Can you remember much, did he run,

help you or captain Rowlands?
No sir, he ran down the trench.
Thank you sergeant major, no
further questions.
Spinkís glances to porter, then Hanna.


Any question gentleman?
Hanna slumps back in his chair. Glances at William.
Private Billingham, do you wish to
cross examine the sergeant major?
William shakes his head to say no.
Very well, I have a few questions
myself. Sergeant major, could you
tell me and this court, the exact
words you used, to order
Billingham over the top?
Yes sir, I remember telling him to
get up the ladder, or Iíll shoot.
And by this time captain Rowlands,
was dead.
Hanna turns to Spinkís nods, Spinkís whispers.
Thank you sergeant major, you are
MacLeod stands up, salutes turns marches down the room,
stares at William as he passes. The doors open, William
glances up and follows him out of the room.
Spinkís Hanna and Porter, Scribbles notes down. Hall sips a
glass of water, William stares licks his lips.
Captain Hall, your second witness?
I would like to call, Major
William stares in confusion, glances around. Spinkís nods to
the guards, the door opens Edwards strolls in, then the
doors slam shut, William jumps with fright. Edwards marches
in, comes to a halt salutes.
State you name, rank and unit?


                       MEDICAL OFFICER
Major Edwards Royal Army Medical
Corps attached, Royal Kent
Thank you Major Edwards. Please
take the bible in your right hand,
and read out the words on the
William stares confused glances around, Edwards reads the
card. William stares at the clock on the wall. 10.30 am Then
11.15 am Edwards salutes, marches out.
                       SPINK (O.S.)
Next witness.
11.20 Am William follows a tall fin man tries to focus his
eyes on the figure. Hall asks question, the room is spinning
William turns his head left to right, sweat runs down his

11.50 Am The tall figure salutes marches out smiles at
William. William falls forward off the chair, Spinkís
glances up, waves his finger at the two military policemen.
William is dragged up onto the chair.

Williamís eyes role back, head moves side to side then
forward. The two military policemen hold him up.
Next witness.
William turns as the door is opened. A smart uniformed
sergeant marches in, halts then salutes.
                       SPINK (COND'T)
Sergeant please state your number
rank and name.
Sir! 23546 sergeant Preston, first
garrison battalion, North
Staffordshire Regiment.
Spinkís nods to Hall.
Sergeant! Do you know the accused
private Billingham?


Yes sir.
The sergeant gives a sly stare at William, William stares
How do you know him sergeant?
I was the NCO in charge of number
four rest camp Boulogne.
What happened on the evening of
that day, sergeant?
Well sir, at about 8.45 PM the
accused private Billingham
reported straight to me.
He said, I have come down from the
line. I asked him how long he had
been adrift, and he said about a
Was the accused properly dressed!
In uniform?
Yes sir, with the exception of his
The sergeant laughs. William shakes his head.
                       HALL (COND'T)
Yes he was.
Hall marches to the middle of the room. Stares and points at


What did you do then?
I detained him, sir.
Thank you sergeant, no further
Private Billingham, have you any
question, for sergeant Preston?
William glances up still confused, stares at the sergeant.
Yes sir!
Sergeant, are you sure that I said
I had come up from the line?
The sergeant glances across SMILES.
Spinkís glances as he writes down the information, turns to
Porter. Whispers.
No more questions Billingham!
Sergeant Preston, was the accused
alone when he reported to you?
No sir, he was with two other men.
Thank you sergeant, no further
Captain Hall?
Hall stands up shakes his head to say no, then sits down.
                       SPINK (CON'T)
You may stand down sergeant!
Gentlemen, that concludes the case
for the prosecution.
The sergeant salutes, marches out.


Private Billingham stand.
William stands up, helped by the two military policemen.
Private Billingham, you may now
either give evidence on oath, make
a statement, not on oath, hand in
a written statement or make no
I would like to give evidence on
oath sir.
Hanna stands up, strolls across to William picks up the
bible. Stand in front of William. William places HIS hand on
the bible.
                       WILLIAM (COND'T)
I swear by almighty god that the
evidence, I shall give shall be
the truth, the whole truth and
nothing but the truth.
Hanna turns around and strolls back to his table, William
slumps down.
Carry on, Billingham.
Er, well when we were at LE
GASTINEAU, I had no intention of
deserting but my nerves went.
Spinkís nods
Please carry on.
I could not stand the strain of
the shell fire, day in and day out
Did you report, to your medical


No sir.
William glances around stares at the two military police,
turns back and stares at Spinkís.
I donít know sir.
Since coming to this battalion, I
have tried to do my best. I've
been on raiding parties, seen my
friends killed.
Carry on Billingham.
I have been in the front line
trenches with this battalion, on
about 6 different occasions. I
have been here since April 1916,
my nerves just went on that day.
Porter glances up.
Did you see the death of, captain
William bows his head and mutters.
Yes sir.
Sorry, Billingham!
William glances up.
Yes sir!
Hall strolls to the middle of the floor, stops then turns
around. Points at William.
Private Billingham! Did you help
captain Rowlands?


William starts to move his feet.
I couldnít sir!
Hall raises his voice shouts, points his finger at William.
You couldnít or you wouldnít?
I couldn'tít sir! Iíve told you,
my nerves went sir.
Hall strolls over to William, places his hands on his hips.
You Billingham, disobeyed a lawful
command in such a manner as to
show wilful disobedience of
authority, given personally by
your superior officer, and
sergeant major.
Didn'tít you! You, you disobeyed
an order?
William shakes his head shouts ĎNOí. Hall turns to Spinkís.
                       HALL (COND'T)
No further questions Sir.
Spinkís nods Hall marches to his table and slumps down on
the chair.
Have you any further statement to
make Billingham?
No, sir.
Very well this court is closed,
for consideration of findings.
William glances at the cell door closes his eyes. Keys
rattle in the door and it opens. William opens his eyes
Eddie stands with a plate of food in his hands. William Jump
up and hugs Eddie.


Hold on mate.
William stands back and bows his head.
How are the lads doing?
Fine mate.
I'm sorry Ed! Sorry for letting
the platoon down.
That's okay mate, it could have
happered to any of us.
Eddie hands the plate over, William slumps down on his bed,
and starts to tug into the food.
Spinkís sits slumped in his chair, with his hat on. He nods
to the guards the doors open, and William is escorted in and
forced into the chair.
Private William Billingham, you
have been found guilty of the
charge brought against you in this
Before passing sentence the court
will hear evidence of Character.
William stands up.
William stares in confusion. A lone figure stands up, from
the back of the room and marches to the middle of the room
and halts. William glances over, and seeís ATKINS face
scared down one side.
Good afternoon Lieutenant.
Atkins salutes.


                       SPINK (COND'T)
Do you wish to submit evidence on
the field conduct of the accused?
Atkins pauses.
Yes, sir.
Very well, please begin.
I produce A.F.B 122 relating to
the accused. 375281 private
William John Billingham, number
one platoon, B company Royal Kent
Date of enlistment November sixth
nineteen fifteenth.
William stares.
Twenty second of June nineteen
sixteen at 0530 am private
Billingham, fall asleep at his
Witness by captain Rowlands, and
reported to brigade sentence not
carried out.
Iím sorry lieutenant,
the sentence was not carried out,
Why was that?
Due to the number of men across
that sector, and the Kentís taking
over from two Irish battalion.
Thatís no accuse! Good soldiers
don't fall asleep.
Atkins gives an angry stare.


The battalion sir, had marched up
from Albert that day. We had one
man filling in for two men! On the
Aye see. Is that it lieutenant?
Thatís it sir! One last thing sir.
Billingham is a very good soldier,
I ask you to be leaned on him sir.
That's Private Billinghamís
conduct sheet sir.
Hall stands up, limps angrily across to Atkins and grabs the
conduct sheet from his hands, glances at it and hands it
back. Atkins marches up to the table, hands the document
over to Spinkís.
Thank you lieutenant, you are
Atkins salutes, about turns then marches out gives William a
quick glances and nods.
                       SPINK (COND'T)
Private Billingham!
William stares to his front cups his hands together. Hanna
turns and whispers to Spinkís, then glances forward.
Private Billingham!
William stares.
                       HANNA (COND'T)
How old were you when you
Sixteen sir.
Spinkís glances up.
So you lied about your age?


Yes sir.
How old are you now?
Seventeen and a half sir.
Hanna shakes his head slumps further down in his chair, his
eyebrows meet in the middle and he stares in disbelief.
And when did you come the France
... again?
William closes his eyes, two deep lines appear on his
forehead, he opens his eyes and glances.
March nineteen sixteen sir.
Spink's cups his hands together slumps back into his chair,
then moves forward places his elbows on the table close his
eyes then glances at William.
The sentence of this court, is
that you suffer death by being
Sentence to be carried out after
confirmation, by higher authority.
This court is adjourned!
William drops to his knees hands cupped together, pleadedís.
Eyes red tears role down his cheeks
Iím the only support of my mother
who is a widow, I have tried to do
my best.
Spinkís nods to the military police, who grab William, he
kicks out but is dragged from the court screaming.
Haig sits and signs papers in front of him on his desk, in
front of a large French window, TYPEWRITER KEYS tapping in
the background. A door opens and Haig glances up, a soldier
marches in and halts in front of Haig.


Whatís this?
The soldier hands the file over. He opens the file and flips
the pages reads through them. The name on top of the file
reads Private Billingham, Royal Kent Fusiliers. Haig picks
up his pen and signs the form and Hands the file back.
William lays on his prison bed, staring at the ceiling. EYES
RED with crying.
CAPTAIN ROTHERHAM Provost Marshal glances out of his office
window, late 40ís tough in demeanour and appearance, of
eighteenth Division picks up a file from his desk, and opens

He glances at it picks up his hat and marches towards the
office door opens it and marches out.
A soldier stands in front of the cell door. Rotherham
marches up to the cell, the soldier immediately recognize
him and stands more rigidly. Keys rattle and the cell door
opens, and William jumps up and stands too attention.

The face of Rotherham appears William stares to the front
sharply. Rotherham holds a file in his hand and flicks
through it. His eyebrows meet in the middle, two dark lines
appear on his forehead he glances up at William.
Sit Billingham!
William glances to his left, A WORRIED look come over his
face and he slump down onto his bed. Rotherham offers
William a cigarette, he nods and takes one.
                       ROTHERHAM (COND'T)
Its not good newís Billingham,
tomorrow you will be taken out and
sentence to death,
Iím sorry.


William glances up a tear role down his left cheek.
Rotherham marches out and then Soap appears. William stands
Sit down lad.
Soap sits next to him on the wooded bed, and glances at him.
His left hand cups his face and he rubs his eyes and then
glances at William.
Saw Eddie the other day..
Promoted to lance corporal.
William smiles, another tear roles down his cheek.
I couldn't take it no more, I just
When I saw Rowlands, when I saw
him get it, his face.
Rowlands body convulse. William stares in disbelief, frozen
for a moment.
Soap stares and pats him on the back. William glances up to
the ceiling.
I donít want to die, I donít want
to die! Not as a coward.
William stands up and starts hitting and kicking the wall of
the cell. Two soldiers appear and forces William down onto
the bed. Soap moves out of the way, William hits one of the
soldiers, sending him to the floor.
                       WILLIAM (COND'T)
Get out of my way! I donít want to
die please!
The soldier gets up grabs his arms and William is forced
down. Soap stares on horrified. William then calms down
after a few minutes.


Okay leave him too me!
The two soldiers nod and march out.
                       SOAP (COND'T)
Young William, will you say the
Lordís Prayer with me?
William stares then nods to say yes. Soap gets up and
William follows, both kneel down hands cupped together and
both mumble the lordís prayer.
William stands glancing out of the cell window up to the
stars. The cell door opens and a soldier stand with his last
supper, which consisted of tea white bread with butter. The
soldier placed it in the corner of the cell.
Next to the food half a glass of whisky and a tablet.
William turns and smiles nods his head. William slumps down
on his bed and glances at the food, and the cell door slams
shut. William jumps.

Five minutes late the cell door opens, William stands up.
Three red-tabbed staff officers, stroll in. One of whom
reads out the death sentence.
Two soldiers digging a grave next to unmarked graves in the
morning mist, both chatting to each other while digging then
both stop to light up cigarettes, glancing around.
The cell door opens, William sits up and rubs his eye,
whisky glass empty, half eaten bread left on the floor.
William glances up Soap stands in front of him, with a
bottle of whisky. Soap bends and picks the glass up.
Soap pours the whisky into the glass, and hands it to
William. Soap takes the bottle to his mouth.
What am I doing her Sarge?


Soap just stares takes another drink from the bottle.
Take youíre drink lad.
William takes the drink, and knocks it back in one. William
then opens his top left hand pocket of his tunic and pulls
out a letter.
Sarge! Hand this to Eddie, too
give to my mother.
A tear roles down his cheek as he hands it over, Soap closes
his eyes and nods trying not to feel emotional.
                       WILLIAM (COND'T)
Look after yourselves, Iím shore
Eddie will look after you Sarge,
heís a good friend.
Soap nods and shakes Williamís hand.
God bless you... young William.
Soap backs away, knocks on the cell door then.
Soap glances around. William nods and smiles, Soap smiles
back. The door opens and Soap disappears.
The ten soldiers facing the accused. And the Regimental
sergeant major giving the order to fire.
                       SERGEANT MAJOR
A volley of fire CRACKS out, smoke from the rifles fill the
air. The smoke dies down, and Williamís body slumps forward
his legs twitching on the ground. The sergeant major THEN
bellows out.
                       SERGEANT MAJOR (COND'T)
Left turn!
The firing squad turn and march off. Two officerís march up


to the body, one of them bends down and feels the neck of
William then glances up and nods to say yes he is dead.

Stretcher bearers stroll up and place Williamís body on the
stretcher and march off, Williamís arm falling over the side
of the stretcher.
Soap stands next to the grave with Eddie, the sun rising in
the background, two stretcher bearers appear with the body
of William.

The stretcher bearers who were deputed to put him in the
hole that had already been dug in the cemetery, leave
Williamís body on the side THEY wouldn'tít do the job.

They went, and so its left to Soap and Eddie. Soap turns and
Atkins stands glancing at the body.
Sergeant, Young Rusling!
Both glances across and nod.
Iíll take him off the stretcher
Soap grabs his arm and shakes his head, grabs Williamís legs
and Eddie his shoulders, and place Williamís body into the
grave. Both pick up two spades left on the side, Atkins
moves forward and mimics the parson.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
Throwing dirt onto the body. Eddie and Soap bow their heads.
Eddie turns and stares, a woman holding the hand of a little
girl strolls pass with red poppies in her little hand, both
give a quick glance and smile.

Eddie marches up to the little girl and hands chocolate over
and the girl hands Eddie a poppy. Eddie pats the girl on the
head and marches back to the grave and stares at the body of
Good bye my friend, god bless you
Eddie throwís the poppy into the grave, the poppy floats
down in slow motion onto Williamís body.


Back to Top of Page
Leave Feedback
From Sven Date 6/11/2008 ***1/2
I criticise the PG rating, but I think you made a good anti-war story. I think 2 stars is not enough.

From Josh LaFrance Date 5/15/2008 ****
Very good, it was a little dry to read, but as I was trying to envision what it would look like on the screen I realized that it is a great idea for a movie.

From Kevin Date 6/24/2005 1/2
never got into it, ever

From Kevin Date 6/16/2005 *
boring, couldn't get into it, again!

From Landon Date 6/7/2005 ***
It was good, I liked it very much. It't better than anything I could have ever come up with. Keep up the good work!

Back to Top of Page
Leave Feedback
You must be logged in to leave feedback.
Home    My Account    Products    Screenwriter Community    Screenwriter's Corner    Help
Forgot Your Password?    Privacy Policy    Copyright 2024, ScriptBuddy LLC.    Email help@scriptbuddy.com